Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Some Christmas school

Seems like a lot of homeschoolers choose to take it easy between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Especially this year, I'm seeing the perks of taking a break and switching it up.

Are they still learning? Yes, ma'am!

Some things we've done so far:

  • Reading lots of Christmas books. I added a few more to our collection.
  • Making ornaments. Some are for us, others are for gifts. Some were from craft kits, and others were made with supplies we had. This is low-key but fun. Fine motor skills! 
  • Made gingerbread houses (a kit, thankyouverymuch)
  • Learning and singing Christmas songs
  • Making cards
  • Driving around and enjoying lights
  • Children's Museum Jolly Days
  • Baking
  • Watching Christmas movies
  • Doing our advent calendar
  • Preparing for our church Christmas program (I will have a shepherd and an angel and they will be singing! CAN'T WAIT SO CUTE)
  • Bought gifts for impoverished children overseas


Unfortunately, we have been sick on and off for awhile and so we haven't been able to do as many things as I'd like. We missed a field trip at Garfield Park that would have been fun. I'd like to go to Christmas at the Zoo, but we'll just have to see. Also would like to go to the Indiana State museum for their Christmas things and get a membership.

But overall? This is a fun time of year. Next week is birthday week. I will have a 4yo and a 6yo. My word. Time is speeding up.

J is reading well, and reads to himself daily. I read aloud daily. He is into making comic books lately, so there's lots of writing and drawing going on. Oh, and I grabbed some "model magic" and also some air-dry clay and they've been creating stuff.

I am glad we can be together and savor this time of year! 

Once January hits, I think we'll try to get back to the 3Rs more formally, especially math. kbye

First live theatre performance for the kids!

I would love to take my kids to as many fine arts performances as possible. I think it's valuable to expose them to plays, concerts, exhibitions, ballets, and such. It's educational, hopefully fun, and something we can do as a family. What's not to love?

So mid-November, J and V went to the Sleeping Beauty performance at Beef & Boards. I haven't been there since middle school. My mom and grandma went with us. Shane had to stay home with the baby because she was sick :(. I don't think she would have done so well with it anyway. It was an hour-long performance and she would have been to antsy, I think.

The kids were familiar with the story ahead of time (hi, Disney version coming out of the vault last month). I should have read the non-Disney story version but whoops, I didn't. Oh well.

They both enjoyed the production and would like to go again some time. Yay!

Beef & Boards puts on a few children's performances each year. These are cheaper than the regular dinner shows. In fact, they ask that children under 3 do not attend the regular shows (and I can see why).

The snack provided was a juice box and a rice krispie treat in a package.

The actors were good and seemed like they were having fun. I think they connected well with their audience.

We all had a nice time and I'm glad we are able to enjoy these types of things!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Learning Chess at 29, and 5. Who knew?

I never learned how to play chess. The rules seemed too complicated. What do you mean the knight moves like an L? And the bishop can shoot across the board in one move?! If my friends played, they didn't tell me about it. It just wasn't on my radar.

That changed last week.

I came across a blog post about using chess as part of your home school, and it was a little light bulb moment for me. Improved logic, you say? Better math and science understanding, you say? Ability to plan ahead, predict outcomes, practice good sportsmanship? Ok!

I think it's important for my own brain that I learn new things and challenge the remaining brain cells I have. I downloaded the free app, which has lessons, tactics training, game play vs. computer and vs. people, etc. (Parents, note that the app has a chat function) So far, I haven't won. I'm appreciating just how hard it is to win.

But that's not the point. I now understand the basic rules and movements, and it's on to learning more strategy with openings, middle moves and closing it down. It is so fun!

I grabbed some books at the library the other day and hopefully they can help.

Meanwhile, Johnny saw me playing a game and was curious. I handed him my phone and let him play the rest of the game vs. the computer. He wanted to learn more, so I found Kid Chess, which has some kid-level tutorials and a computer game called EZ Chess that will basically let the kid win. I don't plan to use that game too much, but I think it helps to cement how pieces can move. Plus, getting a checkmate is a confidence boost and perhaps it's enough to keep the interest going?


Anyway, I'm thrilled that Johnny is showing an interest and I plan to teach all of my children how to play chess. If any of you have advice for me on that front -- recommended books, websites, certain game boards, etc., lemme know. I want to find a set with distinctive pieces. Some I've seen, it's difficult to tell some of the pieces from each other. No good.

Meanwhile, I am on a mission to beat both my husband and my sister. At minimum. I'm ultra-competitive by nature, with absolutely nothing to back it up. Yikes.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Adding on some Math Mammoth

As I mentioned previously, our RightStart math program has been met with some resistance. I adjusted my approach, and decided not to push too hard since hi, early months of kindergarten.

Perhaps since lessons bounce around and use a variety of manipulatives, it's bothering my son? Maybe it feels too jumpy. Hard to say.

We've done a little more with RightStart, but last week, Johnny was doodling some addition. He wanted to know something like 13+13. I showed him how to work it and he thought it was pretty fun, so he made a few more problems for himself.

I printed some addition pages from Math Mammoth to see how he'd like it. It was love. I told him this was actually first grade work and he thought that was really cool that he could do it.

It's too soon to tell if Math Mammoth will replace RightStart for Johnny or if it'll be just a break. I think I should look at RS and maybe pull some concepts and do it without him seeing my teacher's manual. Maybe that's a trigger for him. No idea.

Then yesterday, I didn't do any math with him. We did some other things. He went to his desk in his room and made some math problems for himself. Ok!?

So he did things like 20+20; 1000+1; 100+10; 200+500 etc. He got all but 2 right.

Rather than put an X on the incorrect ones, I took my pencil and put a dot next to them. I said, "I'd like you to take another look at the ones with the dot by it," and he corrected them. I turned the dot into a check mark. He thought that was fun.

Personally, I still love what RightStart is trying to accomplish and I would like to use it for him in some capacity. I'll need to tweak my approach, though.

If you are interested in Math Mammoth, you can get it for superduper cheap. I bought the entire light blue series for grades 1-6 during a Homeschool Buyer's Co-Op sale. You can also opt to buy the pdfs by topic, in the "blue series." For example, the 1st grade level addition is $3.95. WHAT.

Topics in the blue series would be good for reinforcement or a different approach.

There are a LOT of pages in the program, so printer ink is a concern. I've just printed a few at a time, but I might have it printed by some copy shop.