Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fact Practice...

We are drilling some major addition and multiplication facts around here this summer. I found this idea to make it a little more fun on one of my new favorite blogs, Confessions of a Homeschooler. I had them start at the top of the stairs. Then I held up a flashcard (addition for A and multiplication for J) and if they got it right they could move down a step. First one to the bottom wins. As you can see here Jackson was ahead, but Ashton actually ended up winning:

This was a little more fun than regular drill. I was pleased to discover that they knew their facts better than I thought they did, but we have lots more fun drills coming!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Fun in the Box #16...

Why just do math worksheets when you can make it a little more fun. I save every milk cap that enters this house (which is a lot because we are a milk drinking, cereal eating family of 6). There are so many things you can do with them. For this workbox I wrote the numbers 1-9 twice and placed them in a bucket. Jackson was working on 3 digit subtraction so I took a piece of notebook paper and went ahead and drew the problems with blanks. By doing this he knew how many he had to do, how many digits, and it lined them up for him. Notice the paper is turned sideways. This is a great trick I learned teaching 4th grade. The lines on the notebook paper act as guides to help them keep their numbers lined up. That alone eliminates most mistakes kids make when writing their own problems.
Jackson had to draw out 6 caps which became his problems.
I recommend telling them they have to write the numbers down as they draw them for the top but allow them to rearrange the lower numbers to make sure the bottom number is smaller than the top (another important skill!).

This is also obviously great for addition as well. We'll probably soon use it for multiplication too since that is our summer focus!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fun in the Box #15...

I was looking for a better way to have the kids practice their spelling words. I adapted an idea Jackson's 1st grade teacher used- spelling tic-tac-toe. I made a grid with 5 rows and 5 columns then filled them with every fun study-your-spelling-words activities I could think of. Some examples are: rainbow write your words (write in different colors), write silly sentences using your words, spell words using letter magnets, play Spell City, ABC order, etc. They get to choose what activities to do, but it has to result in a tic-tac-toe with 5 across, down or diagonal. They color in the box when they completed it. I tried to mix up types of activities they would have to do to get a tic-tac-toe like writing, moving, art or computer. That way they get a good mix of fun, serious, quick and longer. They loved it. It was way more fun than the traditional ABC Monday, 3 times each Tues., etc. Most importantly, any time you give your kids choice they buy into the activity much more. When they feel in charge they are much more into it which equals less fussing by mom! This is also a perfect workbox activity.

One choice was an activity I got on the A-Z Reading website when they had a free trial :)

They reach into the bag. They have to do whatever the cards they draw tell them to like "write a sentence with your word about a funny monkey" or "write a sentence with your word about a lollipop eating hippo". You wouldn't believe how much they enjoyed this, especially Ashton. You could easily type up some silly directions like this. For some reason drawing something out of a bag makes it more fun as well. I wonder if it would work for chores?

The only change I'm considering making is maybe going from 5 across to 4 or maybe even 3. That would give us Friday free for testing and maybe Monday for an introduction lesson.
I hope you can use this for spelling fun. I;m trying to think of how it can be adapted to some other subjects, hmmmm.........

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Crafting It Old School...

The kids had both just finished reading books they had been working on. In my ongoing quest to brainwash them that reading is fun (because it haunts me that I have sadly failed in that area!) I wanted a project they could do to present their books. We had just bought shoes. I always hesitate to throw them out trying my best to come up with something they could be used for. Then the idea of a diorama hit me. How many dioramas did I make in my day? I loved every one of them. So, for this project we kicked it old school style with the classic diorama. They ate it up and worked on it for hours. I got a shower, quiet time, did some laundry came down and they were still working. Of course, it cost me a lot of paper, foam and pipe cleaners but what are they for anyway. Then Ashton tried the trick of secretly pushing it all into one of Jackson's workboxes when I told her to clean it up :)
I was truly amazed with their creativity. Making a 3-D project requires a little more engineering which Jackson enjoyed. He had just read The Boxcar Children and showed their campsite in the woods around the boxcar. As far as a reading assessment goes, this worked great. I saw that he had really read and retained lots of details from the book. Plus I got to throw in fun terms like setting and character when admiring it!

I loved the pipe cleaner tree trunk. The clothesline was a nice touch as well.

Ashton had read Junie B. Jones Aloha-ha. I thought it was clever that they put on a lid and handle.

She felt bad that hers wasn't quite as 3-D as Jackson's, but I thought it was good. People would've been a lot harder to make 3-D. She showed the scene with the inter tube in the store. Notice the quote she added (another good literary term).

They showed these to everyone. This is definitely a project we will repeat. I guess I have to go shoe shopping :)

In My Happy Place...

We are on a short summer break. I have a new cheaper ink printer. I bought some fun organizing thing. My house is clean (for me anyway). My kids are attending VBS with friends this week (they're gone from 7-1!) and next week they'll be at summer camp from 8-5 each day. What does all this equal? Planning time!

There's something you need to know about me. I'm a planning junkie! There's not much else I'd rather be doing. Now that we are on a break I should probably be relaxing or scrapbooking or something, but instead I am planning for next year. It is great.
I am determined to get lots of stuff planned, printed, cut, ordered, and organized before school starts. Once we are in the full swing of things, I never have time to do all those things well enough. I am so tired of treading water in our school i.e. scrambling around that morning figuring out what is next. I know it's impossible to plan too specifically (for us anyway) but I can get the broad strokes prepared.
So, here's what I've been doing that I'll be sharing more about later:
1. Ordering the next needed books in our curriculum. I love the feeling of knowing a box is going to show up on your porch at any minute!
2. Ordering two new highly recommended history curriculum: Story of the World and Mystery of History. I plan to use them together.
3. Planning fun crafts and getting the supplies together. I love this website: No Time for Flashcards
4. Helping the kids come up with some fun summer topics they are interested in studying. I've just ordered some Download N Go units they each chose. I just got them, but they are really looking promising.
5. I'm finding some great Tot Tools to make at Tired, Need Sleep that I want to make starting with a felt board. I'm hoping the big kids can help make some for some crafting-avoid-the-TV-fun.
6. I'm writing my own TN history curriculum to use with the big kids.
7. Most of all, I've been printing, cutting, and laminating an amazing free letter curriculum I found at one of my favorite blogs, Confessions of a Homeschooler. Did I mention it is free???
Now I'll just have to pull some activities for Tot School out of my organized file folder and school will be on! Priceless!
What a fun week, although my printer would probably like a break. Sleep is overrated anyway...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

MIA Me...

I have been gone for so long from my blog, and it has made me very sad. Blogging is in my top 3 hobbies (with scrapbooking and reading!), and it has been awful being unable to find the time to blog. Life this last half of the year has been really...interesting. Actually, it was mostly December through February that were so hard. Since then I've been trying to recover! Lots of things made those months hard. We hit the typical homeschooling slump being a year in and stuck in the house in those dreary winter months. Majorly contributing to that was having 2 2 year olds hitting the "terrible twos" with a violent vengeance. They fought, bit, hit, escaped from the house, drew on the walls. and destroyed the place. On the upside, they were really cute doing it! About February Will in particular really began to be able to communicate a lot better and most of his head banging fits stopped which relieved a lot of my "my child is going to be brain damaged stress" from my life. Which, trust me, was a lot of stress!
Any way, we are doing much better now and enjoying our short summer break. It's short because we have some lost ground to make up from those rough months :)
So, here I am again and hoping everyone hasn't given up reading this blog! I've got lots of catching up to do. Now the kids are in bed and the hubby is out of town- time to get blogging!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Field Trip and Flooding...

At the beginning of the year we planned to go see Charlotte's Web at the Nashville Children's Theatre (an awesome place). Then Nashville flooded. Everything seemed to be shut down. I figured there was no way we were going to get to see the play even though it was about 5 days after the flood. But apparently "the show must go on" even though you had to use a porta potty! I'm glad it wasn't cancelled because it was one of the best plays we've ever seen there.

Since we were in Nashville, we had to drive around to see some of the historic flooding.

We were amazed at how much water the pumps were continuously pumping up from underneath the big buildings:

This is the Country Music Hall of Fame. We watched as they started pulling seats out. I really need to bring the kids here. It is great.

It was amazing to see all of the water and know this was almost a week later. I hope the kids will remember this big event one day and glad we got to witness a bit of it. We really had some great conversations about all the people effected and what a tragedy it was. What upset them the most (Ashton was literally crying) was seeing the damage it did to our church. Still they got to witness the great Tennessee Volunteer spirit as everyone poured out to help their neighbor. Made us proud to be Tennesseans!