Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Continuing down the Nile

Thankfully we are still right on track with things for school.

First, daily drills.. The improvement between when we started last week and what we accomplished today shows such improvement. The kids are properly using the manipulatives in order to figure out the math equations that we are doing each day. While its only 6 easy equations (3 addition and 3 subtraction), we haven't gotten to that in our math book just yet so this is a skill they are working on ahead of schedule. We should start addition next week after we test on basic numbers so this will make it much easier for them when we get to that point.  Last week, I was having to read each question to them. This week, they are sounding out the words and answers for themselves and are able to determine missing letters as they come across them.

Our math lessons for last week and this week have been basic numbers and counting. This is a skill they already had but I guess the book assumes some kids may not know this so basically the first chapter is a review.

Our science lesson for the day was "What is a Habitat?" and then a discussion about the forest habitat.  It seems each chapter opens up with a song which the kids seem to get tickled pink listening to mom sing (badly). Glad I only have 2 kids to make an idiot out of myself in front of..  The kids each drew a picture of a forest habitat after our discussion and then did a short worksheet as a review. While I did read the questions to them, I was making them determine which word in the answer key was the proper word by making them sound out each word. They did really well, although Garrett is getting sloppy with his writing.

While on the subject of Garrett, coloring is NOT his forte. He does not like coloring. So far he has done
everything I have thrown at him but when it comes to coloring, he does not care about neatness . Garrett has
Garrett gluing his doll
never been one to bother with coloring books and crayons, unlike Ashleigh. Ashleigh does not seem to like to cut with scissors but Garrett does. It sometimes blows my mind how different they are at times.

As mentioned before, the kids have demanded history every day. Obviously, this is their favorite subject.Since we have been discussing Ancient Egypt and the Nile, we did a couple of activities out of "History Pockets".. One was the Egyptian paper dolls but unfortunately, I did not have white tissue paper.. I had every color but white.. It worked out well, however, as Garrett decided he wanted his doll to have yellow clothing and Ashleigh thought pink was the best..

Ashleigh and Garrett's Egyptian Paper Dolls.

We followed up with a second activity in regards to activities that occur along the Nile river. This activity had them looking at pictures as I described an activity, they selected the picture that corresponded with the description and pasted it to the description. Then they pasted each of these into a small leaflet which we then put in our SOTW lapbook. I liked this activity better than the one originally planned for the lapbook and found it more age appropriate for them.

All in all, it was a good day. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Flooding the River Nile..

I forgot to blog the last two days (Friday and Monday) but honestly, not much to really talk about there. Friday we had reviews of the work we did during the week and then had a test over our Science chapter. Both kids scored perfect on their test but we had some tears as separating them proved to be a challenge. Ashleigh could not understand why I brought Garrett into the room alone and was upset over being left behind. After soothing her hurt feelings, she was able to test and did really well. I felt Ashleigh did better than Garrett as Garrett needed alot of coaching to understand what I was asking, as his attention was on everything but the paper in front of him.. Typical Garrett. We ended the day watching the TV series "Walking with the Caveman" and seeing how man evolved over years.

Today we continued working on Chapter 1 in our math books. The kids are getting use to reading the

instructions and doing what is required without much coaching.  Their writing is getting much better too. Also, I'm noticing their phonics is getting much better.. they are beginning to say words and sound out the letters on their own in order to determine missing letters.

Our fun activity today went along with our history lesson. We began our (re)discussion of Ancient Egypt and the River Nile. Today we made a model of the Nile using a small disposable roasting pan, some aluminum foil, dirt that we had in the flower bed in front of the house and some bermuda grass seeds that we had in the closet. After filling the pan with dirt, we dug out a trench to represent our river (although, our "delta" didn't quite turn out the way we had wanted), lined it with aluminum foil and then sprinkled the grass seeds over the "banks".. The kids then took turns "flooding" the river. The river is now outside on our patio table. Each day this week we will flood the river and hopefully get the grass to grow. Tomorrow I will probably have the kids build clay huts or maybe pyramids to set along the banks to represent Egypt more in their minds.

Sprinkling Grass Seeds on the banks of the Nile
Completed River.... Just Add Water
Flooding the Nile... Garrett Supervising
Nile Flooded.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Long day but still a success overall...

The kids and I decided to have a more laid back day today as we had a really rough night last night. Our smoke alarm went off during the night, not just chirping from a low battery but actually going off.. After being awaken from a dead sleep at 4am, adrenaline pumping and rushing through the house to figure out where the fire was, I determined that it was a dirty sensor on the smoke alarm in the hallway. But the broken sleep had an affect on all of us today. I had a migraine the size of Texas and Ashleigh was tired and slept most of the morning. Garrett, who managed to somehow sleep through the commotion was the only one not affected today. Charles was lucky and missed the excitement as he was off babysitting a jet all night and wasn't home til 6am.  It did bring to light the need to do a unit on fire safety however, as all three kids, including my teenager, were unphased by the sound of the smoke alarm. While Ashleigh did wake up, the other two slept through it completely.  I was planning on a unit for fire prevention and safety in October in conjunction with Fire Safety week and this just cements the idea in my head even more.

Thanking God it was just a false alarm!!!

Since none of us really felt like doing a whole lot today, we decided to skip history and call it a day after our other classes. The kids were really cooperative (all things considering) and got their reading, drills, math and science out of the way. We went ahead and skipped copy work however, as I decided I wanted to switch from what we are currently doing and instead use one of the "Happy Scribe" units I purchased from Currclick.  The kids, Garrett especially, are having a hard time with letter placement using the three line method and so I think switching to the Happy Scribe will be better for them until they master it. I'll be looking over which particular unit I want to start with over the weekend and will begin on Monday, as I have various units ( I picked up a few combo packs so I have alot of choices).

While we did have a pretty lax day, I'm not going to fret over it too much, as the kids did most of what we had planned for the day, with the exception of our history lesson. Since we are basically ahead of the game in SOTW, I am okay with this. I guess that's one of the great things regarding homeschooling, we can set the pace and adjust as needed. Even if we didn't get through the necessities today, we could easily do them this evening if we needed to. 

Tomorrow is our first test so I'm curious to see how that goes. We will be testing over our first chapter of Science in regards to Living and Nonliving things.  I'm debating how I am going to test them however.  I may pull them away individually and do the test with them away from the other one so that their answers do not influence the other one. Ashleigh tends to blurt her answers out pretty quickly, while Garrett has to take a few moments to think about things. When this happens, Garrett will usually just repeat what Ashleigh has said. This makes it hard to get an understanding of what Garrett actually knows.  I'll try separating them and see how it goes.

I also need to find a test for SOTW that's easier for kids their age. If I have to, I guess I will put one together myself. We have the tests that accompany the text book but it seems to be geared more for children a bit older than they are. They know the material but they need to be able to see the spelling of the answers to write them out, without it they tend to balk and refuse to write. Asking a couple of 1st graders in their first week to not only come up with the correct answer but to try to spell works such as irrigation, The Fertile Crescent and Lower Egyptians on their own and without a key seems a bit unreasonable. Both can come up with the proper answer but they get frustrated trying to spell it out on their own right now. Guess I know what I will be researching tonight...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

So much for a schedule...

My kids really like history and geography.. so much so that I had a revolt on my hands today. They have demanded that history is every day, not just Tuesdays and Thursdays. So it looks as if my schedule involving
Daily drill Notebook
our history lessons have been thrown out the window and we will proceed with a daily history lesson. I'm not going to complain... I would rather them demand more than to demand less.. LOL
Using manipulatives to do our math equations

After our daily routines of our reading lesson, our daily drills and our math worksheets, we decided to review our science lesson from yesterday regarding the needs of plants. I found a really cute "mini lapbook" on Teachers pay teachers for free last night and jumped for joy as I downloaded it so we worked on that.  The kids got to cut, color, glue and assemble the activity into their composition books. It was a great activity to reinforce yesterdays discussion. After that, we moved on to today's lesson regarding "What Do Animals Need" and discussed food, water, and shelter. Since the kids are use to responsibilities of helping feed and water our family dog they were able to understand that animals need to have food and water in order to live. We then compared the needs of animals to that of the plants we talked about yesterday, discussing which needs were similar and which needs were different between the two.

Interactive notebook page on plant needs

Then it was on to history, which is obviously both kids favorite subject. Today we discussed Nomads and their transition from a nomadic life to that of early farmers and settlers in the Fertile Crescent. This was mostly a review for them as we discussed this back in April and it was a fairly memorable lesson due to the story of the Nomadic girl eating lizard stew. Today proved to be just as entertaining.  The kids colored a map of the Fertile Crescent and marked the first city, Jericho on their maps, colored a picture of a shaduf and then finished with a quick activity for our lapbook of matching pictures of foods that the Nomads ate and creating a small book of it to go into their labooks.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Day Two... so far so good

Another great day to kick off our first week of school. Really am proud of the kids for how hard they are working.  Last year we really didn't adhere to a structured schedule and kinda did our own thing but I didn't feel that was accomplishing as much as we could, so we switched to an actual schedule and order in which to work. We start with our daily drills and copy work, followed by our reading lesson. Then we move on to Math, Science and if we're working on History (like today) then we end with that. Throughout the year, I'm going to be throwing in other stuff like crafts and music.. Ashleigh will hopefully be learning the recorder this year and Garrett has elected to begin learning the bagpipes. We have the recorder already but have been researching the Practice Chanter to start him on the pipes. Luckily both seem to be similar in hand position and technique so hopefully they can learn together.  But needless to say, I will be stocking up on Excedrin Migraine soon.

I wasn't too sure how today was going to go, as when I told the kids it was time for school, Garrett told me no, he wanted to play Little Big Planet. Garrett has recently discovered video games and wants to spend his time playing either LBP or Flow (we're hoping to start him on Minecraft soon).  I told him no, we would do school first and then he could play little big planet. Imagine my surprise when he said "Okay" and we sat down for our lessons. Each kids has their own notebook to keep their work organized by subject so we pulled them out and got started.

Morning drills in our notebooks
The kids have so far really enjoyed our morning drills. Our drills consist of writing our name, the date, checking the weather and then a few exercises in both math and literacy. We're currently using August First Grade Morning Work by Emily Ames. The August unit is currently a freebie on Teachers Pay Teachers but I liked it so much that I have already purchased the September unit and will continue to purchase each months unit. I highly recommend it for a morning drill.

Following our drill, we did the one thing the kids don't like - COPYWORK!!  We're starting off with Mother Goose rhymes because they are easy to read and have an area to color with each page. Right now, the kids writing is, in all honestly, atrocious. But they are working on it.. LOL

Following our reading and math we covered "What Does a Plant Need?". I'm really disappointed in the science book that I picked out as I find it way to simplistic for the kids (and because of this, we will cover the entire first book in 7 weeks). We discussed the fact plants need air, water, light from the sun and a place to grow. We then extended the discussion beyond the book and discussed how plants collect sunlight
through their leaves and they take in water and nutrients from their roots. We were very lucky in that a few days ago, one of the branches on my tomato plant had broken off and I had began the process of making a new plant from it.  I had a nice, freshly rooted plant in water ready to go. The kids had fun touching the roots and observing them.

We finished the day by working on The Story of the World Volume 1. We had started working on this book towards the end of last year but did not get but a few chapters into it before summer and we didn't work with it at all over the break. I decided to just restart from the beginning, using what we know as a review and to re introduce them to the things that we didn't quite pick up the first time around. We will be doing SOTW twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursday. Today's discussion was about how we learn about history and about archeologists.  Garrett was about at the end of his attention span and was wanting Little Big Planet again. So the first part of our reading didn't go so well. I knew I was losing him quickly so we made it a bit more fun. As the Archeologist was finding each relic (the buildings, the iron knife, the pottery shards and the toy ox and car) I got the kids to act as if they were digging, sweeping away the dirt and then observing each item.  This lil bit of fun really helped to reign Garrett back into what we were working on and to participate in the discussion we were having.

We finished the day by starting on our lapbook for SOTW. We're using the version that was made by Alia Macrina Heise. She use to run the "Run of the Mill Family" blog but for whatever reason, it has been taken down.  However, Carrot Top X 3 does have the entire lapbook that was on the RotMF blog (as well as ones she herself made for Vol 2 and 3).  Unfortunately, the video that explained how to put the lapbook together (5 folders) is no longer available so I had alot of fun figuring out how to finagle it. After watching
this video on youtube a few times and looking at how the book was put together, I finally managed to figure it out last night, just in time for today.   The kids were thrilled to glue the cover sheet and the first activity into their lapbooks for our last activity.

With day two over, Garrett then pronounced it was time for Little Big Planet.. Who am I to argue.. So he was allowed 2 hours of game play after lunchtime (homemade bagel pizzas and milk).. Day two is history!!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Welcome Back... First day Anxiety

After a long summer, it was back to the classroom today. I decided to keep both kids on the same curriculum this year so I guess that means both kids are doing 1st grade this year. Garrett should be considered 2nd grade but last year he refused to do any reading or writing so I felt it was in his best interest to start him over in 1st. Looking at how he was today, it seemed to be the right decision as today he was very eager to do his lessons where last year I couldn't get him to sit down for anything. I actually considered getting medication for him to help calm him down.. now I'm very glad I went with my gut instinct and just let him set his pace. The difference between last year and today was like night and day.

Our curriculum this year is consisting of Daily Drills and copy work, reading lessons from "Teach Your Child to Read in 20 Easy Lessons" to start and then we will add to it once we are complete with it, Story of the World volume 1 (which we decided to start from the beginning since we didn't get very far through it last year), and  MCP Mathematics Level A. We're starting the year with Scott Foresman's 1st Grade Science (the Penguin book) but it looks as if we are going to fly though this book in a matter of weeks as the lessons are very simplistic and the kids are well what it teaches, but there are a few topics the kids could learn from. Once we finish with the science book, we will be doing Apologia's Zoology 1.  We will also be doing Bible lessons (with a primary focus on the life of Jesus), unit studies regarding the holidays  as well as incorporating Little Passports USA throughout the year.

I was really apprehensive today about starting our lessons. Last year, as mentioned, Garrett couldn't sit down for anything. It was very frustrating to sit and try to teach them with him getting up every minute. Today was so wonderful. Garrett sat through all of our lessons, wrote everything request of him and actually paid attention. At first, he was more interested in what was in his pencil box and I was thinking we would be repeating our frustration from last year but he quickly settled down. His writing is well behind what Asheligh's is but I have a feeling he is going to catch up quickly. Just the improvement between him writing his name on the first handout of the day and the last was amazing.  I have no doubt that he will be up to par very quickly. Ashleigh was more of a handful today but that's just her. I think she was pretty excited about actually starting school again and that came out in her behavior.

All in all, we had a great first day here at home and if the rest of the year can go even half as smooth as today went, I think it will be a great year.


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