Saturday, March 29, 2008

The End of Treasure Island

I think I have found such a wonderful selection of classical books that were written for the younger crowd . We really enjoyed reading Treasure Island to the girls and they really loved hearing the story . Each night they asked for just another chapter . The Classic Starts books are wonderfully written for the younger crowd . Making it very easy for them to picture what is going on in the story and not bogging them down with long words so they lose the whole plot of the story . The books definitley are not dumbed down at all . There are still lots of big words in the stories . But not so many that it complicates their understanding . '

If you haven't noticed we are getting ready to begin " The Swiss Family Robinson " . I am excited myself to find out what happens in the story , and I hope we enjoy this story as much as we did with Treasure Island .

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Trees , Birds and Dinner , Oh My !

What a beautiful day it was today . Though the sun only was out for a short period of time today and it was windy and cold . It was nice to see the sun shine its face on the world today . School work was done , and we headed out to grandma and grandpa's house for some fun . Today we learned how to tap a maple tree for sap . Grandma and grandpa plan on making some maple syrup . So the girls are just super excited and can't wait . We were all surprised as cold as it was today that the tree still ran some sap .
Marilyn , Katie and Hannah were able to try a little sap . Tim and I as well . Tasted alot like water with a little bit of a sugary taste . After the tree tapping , then we headed back indoors to study birds . Marilyn and Grandpa's hobby is watching birds . I was able to find a great link on The Well Trained mind board to make a bird coloring book . Along with their bird books the girls were able to color in the birds that they see alot at Grandma and grandpa's house . So that became the fun project as we all nibbled on leftovers from Easter . Plus Marilyn and grandpa were able to plan on what to do next to earn her Junior Girl Scout patches .
All in all it was a fun day . And we are looking forward to making that maple syrup .

Saturday, March 22, 2008

" Thine is the Kingdom , the power , and glory forever "

I've always been one for black and white photos . Nothing portrays the moment as well as black and white . So I felt this photo best suited today's post .
Though we've been a little behind in our studies never did I know it would actually work out so well for our history lesson as it did today . Even though it is Saturday and we try and take a weekend brake from it all . I always try to find a teachable moment whenever I can . So today I brought out our history book ( Children's History of the World ) and our Bible .
I'll admit that I don't read from our Bible like I should to the girls . We unfortunatley have fallen out of the habit of going to church as well . But wether we attend a church never will I fall away from knowing that God is there . That he truely exists . It stays in my mind as I know that a painting cannot be created without a creator . It cannot draw itself , paint itself. That there has to be someone there to create it . Just as God created the world and all that lives in it .
So wether we attend a church doesnot in my mind ever mean that I donot believe in the One who has created it .
Anyways as I stray away from the point . I brought out our history book and our Bible . Marilyn was perplexed to as why I had both books out . I wanted to show Marilyn how much history plays itself out , and at the same time how God's plan plays itself out .
So here is the history version of that time :
At that time in the world Rome was a great super power . They ruled the whole world ,, or at least the amount of the world they knew to be the whole world . Rome ( Italy ) at that time ruled when Jesus was an adult . They were aware of Christ's teachings , yet it meant very little to them . Rome had many religions , from beliefs in many gods to those who believed in the sun , moon and stars . So one more religion to them didn't mean really too much of anything . There was a law though that stated no one could claim themselves as king . Such a claim would put a man to death on the cross ( the standard practice of death at the time to those who were not Roman ) . And so there were some people who wanted Christ put to death . They believed his teachings would cause a revolt and a beginning of a new super power that would put down the Roman Empire . Though Pilate didn't believe this and to him it was such a small matter , though keeping his goverment in order was very important to him at the time too .
With that Pilate's soldiers arrested Jesus and brought him to Pilate . Pilate had Jesus brought forth to him and so spoke with Jesus to find out his intentions . He could find no basis as to condemn this man . But his reputation was on the line . Others began to suggest that he was commiting a crime against Caesar . Commiting a crime against Caesar , who was Augustus Caear ( a.k.a Octavius son of Julius Caear ) at the time , was punishable by death . Augustus was not as fair as a man as his father Julius . Actually he was a cruel and brutal leader .
Pilate felt he was against a wall as the Jews wanted Jesus put to death , yet he could see no crime and nothing to charge him with . We all know the ending of the history story . Jesus was put to death on the cross along with two other criminals . His twelve apostles spread out , and continued Christ's ( Greek for Messiah ) teachings . The Christian's held their meetings in secret places or even underground with the fear of being arrested and put to death . The reason for this was because Rome was beginning to believe that the Christians were trying to start a new world empire . After some time the leaders began to become much bolder and came out of hiding with the intention if having been caught that they were dieing for Christ's sake( martyrs) . It is said that the first martyr was Stephen in 33 AD. One of the men who helped in putting Stephen to death was Saul . Saul was a Roman citizen , and was a proud Roman citizen . He believed in the thought that the Christians were enemies and that they had to be punished . But something happened to Saul . This same man who believed in punishing the Christians became the very thing he fought against . A Christian . Though he had never seen Christ , he became so passionate in Christ's teachings that he became one of the chief of Christians , then Apostle and was called by the Roman name Paul . Paul was then condemed to death and since he was a Roman citizen couldnot be crucified but was beheaded .
I can definitley say that our history lesson was very interesting . I learned alot I didn't know yet it left Marilyn scratching her head as to what this had to do with Easter . It had alot to do with it . In order to understand the story of Easter . You had to understand the times. The thought process of men at the time. The plot if you will . Understanding this gives you the whole story as to why things happened the way that they did , what God's plan was ,and how it unfolded in time .
Of course we all know the story of Christ's Crucifixion . We know it was God's plan . That he gave his only Son so that we maybe saved through him . I know at that moment that Marilyn didn't understand why God's own father would send his Son to die . I mean parents are supposed to love their children . But one thing is God does love his children . That he sent Jesus to die so that we may learn about him , and come to him so that we can live for eternity with him . It is a tough concept for a child to understand . As an adult though I know that God does the things he does because he loves us . We may not think so . It may not be our plans . But they are the plans of God . The One who loves us .
So at this time of Blessed Easter . Know that God loves you . That he sent his only Son to die for you so that through Him , you can know God , and know that he loves you .

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The 12 days of Homeschooling

I hope you all enjoy this as much as I did today reading it from another post . I thought it was so funny , yet so true .

The 12 days of Homeschooling
( done in the tune to " The 12 days of Christmas )

On the first day of homeschool my neighbor said to me, " Can you homeschool legally ? "

On the second day of homeschool my neighbor said to me , " Are they socialized , can you homeschool legally ? "

On the third day of homeschool my neighbor said to me , " Do you give tests , are they socialized , can you homeschool legally ? "

On the fourth day of homeschool my neighbor said to me , " What about P. E , do you give them tests, are they socialized, can you homeschool legally ? "

On the fifth day of homeschool my neighbor said to me , " YOU ARE SO STRANGE ! , what about P.E, do you give them tests , are they socialized , can you homeschool legally ? "

On the sixth day of homeschool my neighbor said to me , " How long will you homeschool , YOU ARE SO STRANGE , what about P. E . . do you give them tests , are they socialized , can you homeschool legally ? "

On the seventh day of homeschool my neighbor said to me , " Look at what their missing , how long will you homeschool , YOU ARE SO STRANGE , what about P. E. , do you give them tests , are they socialized , can you homeschool legally ? "

On the eighth day of homeschool my neighbor said to me , " Why do you do this , look at what their missing , how long will you homeschool , YOU ARE SO STRANGE , what about P. E ., do you give them tests, are they socialized , can you homeschool legally ?

On the ninth day of homeschool my neighbor said to me , " They'll miss the prom , why do you do this , look at what their missing , how long will you homeschool, YOU ARE SO STRANGE , what about P. E . , do you give them tests , are they socialized, can you homeschool legally ? "

On the tenth day of homeschool my neighbor said to me , " What about graduation , they'll miss the prom , why do you do this , look at what their missing , how long will you homeschool, YOU ARE SO STRANGE , what about P.E. , do you give them tests , are they socialized , can you homeschool legally ? "

On the eleventh day of homeschool my neighbor said to me , " I could never do that , what about graduation , they'll miss the prom , why do you do this , look at what their missing , how long will you homeschool , YOU ARE SO STRANGE , what about P. E . , do you give them tests, are they socialized , can you homeschool legally ? "

On the twelfth day of homeschool my neigbor said to me , " Can they go to college , I could never do that , what about graduation , they'll miss the prom , why do you do this , look at what their missing , how long will you homeschool , YOU ARE SO STRANGE , what about P. E. , do you give them tests , are they socialized , can you homeschool legally ?"

On the thirteenth day of homeschool I thoughtfully replied : " They can go to college, yes, you can do this , and they can graduate, we don't need the prom , we do it cuz we like it , they aren't missing anything , we'll homeschool forever, WE ARE NOT STRANGE ! , We give them P. E , life in itself is a test , they are socialized , yes, you can homeschool legally .

On the fourteenth day of homeschool my neighbor said to me " How can I get started , , why didn' t you tell me , where do I buy curriculum , when is the next conference , WILL PEOPLE THINK WE'RE STRANGE , I think we can do this , if you will help us , can we join P. E , and we'll homeschool legally ."

Monday, March 17, 2008

Treasure and Study Island

I think the title says it all about what we've been doing this week .

All week we've been working on the online program called Study Island . The unfortunate part is that since we are with a cyberschool we have to participate in the state testing that comes along with it . I along with alot of families and even teachers from our cyberschool definitley donot agree with testing young elementary aged children . Why you ask ? Because you aren't going to get accurate results . Children elementary aged are still learning . They are still learning to master important skills such as reading , learning how to spell , to write , learning their math facts . One is just not going to get accurate results at this age . Some children at this level are more hands on with their learning . My oldest is a smart little cookie . Put a test in front of her and she becomes mush and begins to drool . Now my middle child scares me . I worry about her as she can give me so many irrelavent answers when I ask her a question it makes me wonder if anybody is home . Put a test in front of her and she becomes " Katie the test taking wonder ." Which at the same time makes me wonder if she is really smarter then what she leads me to believe most of the time ( as I say with a big smile ) .

Both Marilyn and Katie are taking these tests this year so I'll be curious to see what come out of it . But to me it doesn't mean anything and its not the end all either .

But anyways before I went off on that Study Island is a program to help teach children to learn how to take tests ... ugh , I could go off on that too . It is helpful though . They go through topics , can play simple games to master the skills and move on . Marilyn and Katie's big goal though is to be able to have their names put in the raffle for the Nintendo WII . Big motivator can you tell ?

I think though that the thing we are enjoying the most is reading "Treasure Island " . After reading Robinson Crusoe they are really getting into the classical stories , and "Treasure Island" is proving to be a big hit . We all are really enjoying the story . I am hoping to come up with some activities to do along with the story too to cement some of it in their little impressionable brains . I'm sure I'll find something or come up with an activity .

I'm finding when we stray away from the Calvert we tend to be more relaxed and learning has become more enjoyable for all of us . It really has .

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Fun day with Agora

Okay . I'll admit . I forgot our camera and wished I didn't .
We finally have been able to break free of the evil snow . The sun finally made its debut and started melting alot of the snows. I was very happy to see the roads so cleared out , well at least the main roads after our very big snow storm we have . That's the one thing about living in the snow belt . You live with lots of snow .

Anyways as I digress . We all went on our field trip with the Agora cyberschool to Barnes and Nobel . Of course we could not leave without books . Lots of them . The Agora staff members came to read stories to the kids . They read many favorite books for the younger children , and a few for the older. My girls absolutley LOVE going to a book store and we never leave without at least one book . Marilyn of course got one of her favorite Magic Tree house books. She had won a Barnes and Nobel card last year that was worth $5 . She earned $2 this week so she knew she had $7 to spend . Then we found a very interesting series called "100 Things you should know about : Ancient Rome " . I absolutely LOVE it ! Actually its a series of books called " 100 Things you Should Know about : " And they had all sorts of different books about , cats , dogs, sharks , the human body . Its is very nicely put together and not all cluttered full of stuff like alot of those information type books . I had always steared away from them because they always seemed so cluttered. But not this book . For us it had the right amount of information of different facts about the Ancient Romas . Also on each page it had a fun little activity you could do with your child . Like how to make your own Toga , making a paper mosiac , a recipe for Patina De Piris ( Pear Souffle ) a real Roman dish , learning some Roman words , and painting yourself like a Celtic warrior .
As we go through the book along with with our history book next week we'll be sharing some of what we have learned and what projects we've decided to make . I'm excited. I wished they had a book on Ancient Greece while we were there. I did find the website to get these books so I may order the 1000 facts about Ancient Greece that they have as well .

In the end of all of this we had a great day . It was nice to see the sun outside , it was wonderful to get out and breathe some fresh air after having a very difficult month with everyone catching yucky viruses , and always fun to listen to stories and buy a good book to add to our huge collection .

To end my blog this evening to an answer to a comment I had recieved . College is VERY important to most homeschoolers . Unless your Amish this is one goal you want for your child . I know lots of kids that skipped classes in high school . I am not ignorant about college life . We visit colleges every year when we take our daughters to their swim competitons , and dancing recitals . And if you are not here to support our family in our homeschooling journey then please move on to another blog that fits your interest .

Monday, March 10, 2008

Updates and more

Hello all . As you can see on the upper right hand corner of the screen I have added a blog updater . Is that really a word ? If its not well I just made up one :>) All you need to do is type in your email address and this will send you updates of our blog as I post more entries . That way its not all forgotten. I hope it works though .

I had read our comments from the last post and had some questions from some posters . So I thought I would answer them . I figure the more you know the more you grow , right?
The first question was about high school . What will we do for our girls for high school ?
Well , even though it is some time away for us as my girls are only 10 , 8 , 4 and 19 months . I have put thought into all . We are with a cyberschool right now . Cyberschooling is the new thing right now . It is schooling at home basically . We follow the same rules as a public school . State testing , we have an instructional supervisor that is assigned to us and if we need anything , if I have any questions she is there for us . Our cyberschool offers an option that not all cyberschools offer and that is virtual online , live classes . With a certified teacher . Should we chose this option ( which is soley based on indivdual choice of each and every family as to what works best for them ) . My daughters have access to this should I find that we get to a point that I feel uncomfortable teaching . Which to this point I have yet to get to this point . Well I'll admit 5th grade math isn't as easy as it used to be . But I'm learning right along with Marilyn and she is able to pass with A's in math . So I guess we aren't doing to bad yet .

College . All colleges accept homeschooled diplomas . Actually they are actively recruiting homeschoolers because they know that they are devoted to their education . That they aren't out partying all night or dropping out of college because , well let's face it .. our kids have never skipped classes . College is not an option for our girls . They will go . Where , well that is up to the college :>)

As for Prom . Well I went to high school , my husband went to high school . I did like my prom . But it wasn't what made my whole school experience . It wasn't what I really remember fondly about school . My main enjoyment was Band really . My husband went to junior prom but not his senior and really in the grand scheme of things at the age of 37 could still care less about it .
With that said , should our girls really want to go to prom .. they are more then welcome to . In Pennsylvania homeschoolers have the same access to extracurricular activies the public schools offer . So really , my girls won't look back and hate us wether they go or not . They will know with great pride that they had the choice to go though .
The next question is: Do I have a degree? . That answer is no . I had earned my teacher's aide certificate and have worked at a college daycare . That is all the educational experience I have outside of my home . So with that said . No . I was not homeschooled . I wished I had been . I would of loved it and thrived .

I know many intelligent people who donot have degrees, and I know many not so intelligent people with degrees :>) . In PA, and every state that I know of so far , a degree is not necessary . Most states do require you have your high school diploma , some donot have any laws . Just depends on where you live . I am a person who loves to learn , pursues the things I want to learn about , and finds new things to learn about everyday . I know homeschooling my daughters I have learned more things now then I did as a child . Its pretty hard when you were jumped around to about 10 different schools as a child . Not because we were in the military but because I was so horrendously teased as a child and the schools never did anything to protect me . I bet had my mom known about homeschooling she would of done that . But she did what she knew she could do and that was taking me out and putting me in another school . I spent more times trying to protect myself from bullying children that my education lacked. Now I wasn't a failing child . I actually had teachers that thought and new that I knew much more then I knew myself . But the abuse from the other children made me to into survival mode and I missed alot . I know have the opportunity to learn more of the things that I missed as a child and the plus is I get to do it all right along with my children . Math was never my strong suit . History I was never interested in . I did well in all my other subjects. I can definitley say in Marilyn's 4th grade Child's History of the World book has truely opened up a love for history now that I am 31 yrs old .
With all of that said I at some point would like to get a degree in something . Which I will .

If you have a love for learning , love being with your children , and know this is the right choice for YOUR family then homeschooling is a wonderful option . I never recommend it to families that say " I can't wait to get my children out of the house for the day " . It just won't work and everyone would be miserable . I am cautious to recommend it when a mother or father says " I just don't think I could do what you do . " With that I say its a choice and you never know wether you can or cannot do something until you've actually tried it .
Every family does what is best for them . What works for one maynot work for another . So its a family decision , but a wonderful one if you know its something you want to do .

Friday, March 7, 2008

The scary part of homeschooling

Even though I love homeschooling the girls and have found nothing more rewarding in my life . I always know that there is always going to be someone out there who doesn't agree with the way Tim and I choose to educate our daughters . Alot of the times its out of ignorance to what homeschooling really is and what it entails . I read an interesting article about how the state of California is trying to strip the rights of families to home educate their children . Forcing them to put them in their substandard schools . With this I have to say :

Alot of people out there donot understand homeschooling and see it as some 'hippie' 60's thing that only wacko religous people do to keep their children shielded from society . And those thoughts are so far from the truth . Children that are homeschooled , or schooled at home have such an advantage to their brick and mortar counterparts . Children that are taught at home , if done right that is , can experience life more then a child does stuck in a building for 8 hours a day . We can dwell on the things that interest us, and we can stop and work on those things that seem the toughest . We can move on if things are too easy, and we don't have to wait for the class to 'get it ' before moving on . Homeschooled children are very socialized and dare I think we socialize a bit too much . But I know my family has definitley dispelled that myth . Marilyn , Katie and Hannah can relate to children their age, younger , older . They aren't afraid of adults , and are polite . We even have the chance to take the girls to the nursing home that their grandmother works at to meet with some of the older folks . Letting them know that old people really aren't creepy . They are social little butterflies that haven't let learning at home keep them down .

We do believe in God , but we don't shield our children from society . We present both facts , then always let them know what we believe in . But we aren't spookie , creepy , jumping up and down , handwaving relgious wackos either . We also don't homeschool for relgious reasons, which believe it or not in today's society its the least common factor anymore anyways . More and more families are pulling their children out of brick and mortar schools because of violence in the schools , and poor substandard education by the 'credentialed' teachers that some aren't even fit to teach their own child let alone thier own as well . It is amazing as one night I sat and watched Jay Leno and he has a spot on his show where he goes out in the public and asks people simple questions and they show how "smart" they really are . The one that stuck out at me and even scared me was a 5th grade English teacher that didn't even know what the world alfresco meant . Me , in my limited non credentialed education knew immediately what this word meant . Of course it meant : outside . This woman didn't even know . He also asked her several questions you would of expected a certified teacher to know and she just laughed away with a chester grin only to say " I don't know ? " It was scary to even know this lady taught in the school system . It just goes to show you that going to college doesn't always means your more educated then someone else . It just means that you spent more money on something someone could learn on the job . One person in the comment section of the article tried to compare us with trying to be doctors . To that we don't feel we are doctors . Home educators know we are not medical doctors nor do we want to be . That the medical field is definitley something you MUST go to college for . Teaching your children . You really donot . Alot of families don't even realize that they teach their children from the very beginning . From the time you hold them in your arms your child is learning from YOU . Not a credentialed MOM .

Of course there are some families who have the wrong notion of homeschooling . Believeing that they can throw a book at their child and they are going to learn on their own . Sometimes we don't know the whole story and a child or children can have learning difficulties that make homeschooling a bit more of a challenge . Not all children are textbooks and not all children master material at the same time at the same level . My 10 yr old is finishing 4th grade this year . Her 8 yr old sister is finishing 3rd . Only because that is the level they are at . Some children at 8yrs of age are just finishing 1st grade in some homeschooling families . And you know what ? That's alright too . Being able to tailor our children's education so they are learning is what is important . Not if a child is 1 or 2 or 3 grades above or below their level .

Even brick and mortar school children are behind . I have a hard time believeing that its alright for a child to go to brick and mortar school and be behind . Why is that ? But a child at home could be working a level or two below grade level , and still be thriving and its not alright . I can say that you can get similar results from both sides of the spectrum . There are some homeschooled children who just don't do well at home . Maybe where mom isn't the best person to teach because of whatever issue there maybe . Not everyone is cut out to homeschool . But then not everyone is cut to be a teacher in a brick and mortar school either . I can remember many times being in classrooms with burnt out teachers who just were mean and scary and feeling like I had to protect myself rather then sit and learn in the classroom . All of this really goes both ways . The only difference is brick and mortar teachers get paid . I don't .

Just like small children . Not all children walk at age 1 . Not all children crawl . Not all children are eating table food at 9 months old , and not all children know their ABC's when they go to preschool . Why does it need to be so different once children begin their educational journeys ? Why do we hold our children up to a textbook then , and tell them that they have to be and do things like everyone else does now ? Why can't we let our children grow and thrive at their own pace ? Isn't that what life is really about ? Today we read in history about many famous Americans who have been schooled at home . Benjamin Franklin , Patrick Henry , Nathan Hale , Abraham Lincoln , George Washington , Thomas Jefferson , Woodrow Wilson , Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison , Margaret Mead , Frederick Douglass , Helen Keller , Emily Dickinson , Mark Twain , are all just to name a few . I mean really , such wonderful , intelligent people whom alot of them weren't given any credit as children because they were either labeled "stupid" , or " slow " , or some families didn't have the money for education because along time ago there wasnt' free education . Where these families terrible and horrible like the parents of today are for wanting the same freedom ?

Homeschooling is a choice . A fundamental right , and dare I say Constitutional Right as our children are given " fair and equal education ?" Where is the fairness in cheating our children out of a good education when sending them to substandared brick and mortar schools ?... and hey , since we're on the subject .. why are those schools so substandard ? I mean really .. credentialed teachers teach in them . In the end our children will grow up , go out and get a job and in the end does it really matter where they learned what 2+2 equals ?

If your wondering here in the end what I am talking about . Here is the link :

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Where did God go in my science book ?

Today was a pretty interesting day . The Calvert science is always so dry and boring . None of us can really get into any of it . Its unfortunatley the least favorite of our subjects next to the Calvert math .
So Marilyn was on a mission today . I saw her digging around my files of old stuff that I keep and she found her old Ace Paces that I've had for some time . She pulled them out and took them over to her desk and starting working in them . All of a sudden a light went off in her head . She was really excited to tell me that if we didn't have the atmosphere that the sun would burn the earth ." That God made our earth in such a way that everything is so perfect " . She was so excited to tell me all of this . Then she said " Mom if my Calvert science book would just say that it would be so much more interesting and fun to learn . " " Where did God go in my science book ?"
Boy isn't that an eye opener ? Especially from my 10 year old . It really does make you think . Without God , life is boring and dry. There is no substinence . Without God life is just a dry and boring textbook with nothing but facts . You put God into the equation and the world just opens up . Life becomes more interesting . A whole new world just opens up before your eyes. One that you knew never existed when you've read those old boring dry books that have God deleted out of the text . Knowing it is He who made the earth , and all that lives in it gives a sense and a meaning to life itself .
Marilyn has also missed her old curriculum . We used a combination of curriculum , Ace school of tomorrow , Christian Liberty and some others along the way . Marilyn seemed to thrive more with the Ace Paces then she has with anything else .
I know I have times where I crave that she could do her work more independently . I mean I love to teach the girls their lessons but it feels like every aspect of Calvert needs me to be involved with it . Even at times the so called independent work . Plus I feel like there just isn't enough time in the day to do the lessons , even if I cut out work .
I guess there is still alot I miss with independent homeschooling . There really is .

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Art of Studying

Ah yes, the inevitable art of learning how to study for tests . I am one for stressing the importance of this with my girls because I mean really , we all have to learn to study for something . Today was Lesson 14 spelling test for both of the girls . This will prepare them for their lesson 60 test that they need to take tomorrow for their spelling .

I always give ample enough time to study for tests. We play games , do our spelling book , book work and then I give a huge WARNING that the test is tomorrow . But for some strange reason those warnings go out the door and the girls think that they can get by it all without studying , or studying with the computer and t.v . on . Not ! So today they are learning the hard way. Writing each misspelled wors 50 times . Doesn't sound too bad if you miss a few . But its awful for sure if you missed 8 words or even 13 words ! Evil laugh here !

So Marilyn and Katie have been spending most of their day writing spelling words . Hannah worked on her 'school work' . She likes to be like her big sisters and have her own work . And trust me . I strike while the iron is hot when they are younger . So we worked on the concept of large and small , and are working on letter recogition . I was able to find some free worksheets on Touch Math's website( I have the link in my favorite curriculum links ) . This is a really neat way to teach math . They use a dot system with the numbers. So instead of using a number line or counting on fingers or other manipulatives they can look at the number 2 , picture two dots and be able to count and memorize . It really does work . Its just too bad their curiculum is super expensive . They do sell the seperate workbooks that go with the curriculum and you could use those. But they are expensive too at around $50 for 4 workbooks . That's pretty steep and I can't find them second hand at all . So I just print out some of the worksheets from the website because they have a ton of free worksheets and let Hannah go at it while I work with the girls .

Tomorrow I will be sharing with everyone pictures of what all of our books look like .

Monday, March 3, 2008

Outside school

Hello all . Today was a wonderful day . Too irresistable to NOT to go outside . Even though there was still snow we had a day of a balmy 65 degrees.
So to add school into our day while taking advantage of the outside weather . The girls made snowmen . We talked about water of course . Temperature , what the weather needs to be outside for the water to freeze . Why Frosty was melting while we made them .
I think that is one of the beauties of schooling our children at home . We can stop from the academic work and still learn while playing . We can take the time to stop and smell the roses .
Also another fun way of learning is what I call telephone learning . The girls spent the night at grandma and grandpa's house this weekend . We still needed to work on spelling words . So I decided to do spelling over the phone . The girls thought it was pretty neat .
Tomorrow we will start back on book work as we need to get their test lesson 60's out . The one thing I've learned is that after 3rd grade the Calvert tests get really time consuming , are much harder to do and require alot more work to be turned in . Some of the questions I am surprised they are asking a 4th grader and to me would require much more thought and at a much higher grade level . But I guess that is what makes Calvert such a great curriculum. The fact that it really makes children think .
I'm still working with the math . I just donot like this new math they teach in schools . In my opinion it is VERY important to learn the math facts first. It makes math much easier and quicker to do . If a child takes too long with a math problem , too much frustration begins to start and that is when the tears start . So I really need to take a different approach to math for the girls . Even though math is Marilyn's strong subject , she is just really hitting a wall and I think it has to do alot with NOT knowing her math facts quickly .
Katie , well , math has never been her strong subject , and Calvert math doesnot by any means work well for her . We had MUCH , MUCH more success with Saxon math . Which leads me to giving Christian Light math a try . It is very much like Saxon math but in workbook form . My girls are 'workbookie' kids so I really think this approach will help them feel more confident about themselves .
Even though we 'school at home' with a cyberschool the traditional homeschooler comes out in me to want to customize their education so it suits them better and are more successful in their learning and understanding of subject matter . I know my girls won't always understand everything , and there will always be that one thing that just doesn't click for them at the moment . But if I can use something that helps them feel more confident about themselves then it is all worth it in the end .

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Our new homeschool blog

Hello all . I had to switch blog websites because I have have problems getting into our old site. Its not as pretty as the other board but it will do , and I feel bad that I have to leave all of those memories behind . All of those days were just such wonderful memories. But I guess we have to move on now don't we ?
This will be our first blog entry . I will post our pictures later on of the girls doing their school work , and enjoying our homeschooling journey. Maggie has her own seperate page. I think its only right that we keep the medical stuff seperate from our schooling stuff. Even though those things really go together I guess .
Alright , well I'll at least try to keep it all seperate.

Well to start off ... Marilyn is working currently with Calvert 4th grade curriculum with 5th grade math . We have really enjoyed the 4th grade curriculum for the most part. I can venture to guess that Marilyn's favorite subjects are my favorite ones two . This year her all time favorite subjects are : reading .. so far we have read Robinson Cursoe . Honestly all the girls loved listening to mommy read this story ( I'll talk more about this book later) . Right now we are reading Mighty Men and they are a collection of stories from the times of the Greeks , Romans and so on . It is nicely put together and Marilyn now loves to read me stories from this book . It also correlates nicely with our next favorite subject: History . We are reading Child's History of the World , otherwise known as CHOW . I had read alot of not so great reviews about this book . Reading that many people donot like it . But we've found that we REALLY like this book . No its not flashy with lots of photo pictures and lots of color .. but it has pencil drawings , is plain , but is FULL of history . It is so well put together that a child reading at a 4th grade level or so could read this on his or her own . With the exceptions of some of the hard Egyptian , Greek and Roman names . But its right there at a child's level . We all have learned so much so far about the Greeks and Romans right now . The book starts from the beginning and ends with the time of the Vietnam War . Of course we had to discuss the "theory" that was presented in the first chapter. It didn't really go into the big bang theory but more of a short story of what someone THINKS the way the world started . Which led us to a very nice discussion as how our family doesnot believe in that and that God is the Creator of all things . As well as talking about cavemen as well . I think it truely is important for children to have both sides presented and let it be a learning opportunity as to what our family believes . There are also stories of times in the Bible in the History book and it really had helped actually all of us to understand some of the stories and the times in the Bible . Marilyn especially enjoyed the fact she had a short story book ( written at a preschool level ) that she read to Maggie and that she knew and understood the story of Queen Esther . I highly recommend this book for those of you that piece meal your curriculum for grades 3 -5 . I usually read the story aloud because Marilyn is very much an auditory/visual learner . Plus I like to listen to each chapter myself as well as Tim ( who is very much a history buff ) . Geography is the next subject Marilyn really likes as well in the 4th grade Calvert . She just thinks its fun to learn about the world . Our least favorite is math this year. Even though math has been Marilyn's strong subject she is finally hitting her wall with 5th grade math . And let me tell you it is tough . I don't care for Calvert's math anyways in how they teach math . It is very foreign to me and not at all the way I was taught in school . Plus they have no real review to keep concepts fresh . I am looking into Christian Light Math to supplement this math program . Even though we are with a cyberschool , math is math and it doesn't matter where we get it from . As long as she can pass her lesson tests . Science is very borning and dry . I really believe if you take God out of the equation in this subject there is nothing to it . It will remain dry and boring . But we're plugging away with it . Last of all spelling . Its not Marilyn's favorite subject but she is doing well with it this year .

Katie is doing well with her 3rd grade subjects . Her reading is great. I can't ask for anything more that she reads 1 year ahead of herself . Technically she is a 2nd grader , but is working in 3rd grade work . She loves Gods of Greece . It seems to be her favorite , and spelling . Katie is a VERY good speller. It comes naturally to her . Science , again is boring for us . Math is NOT her favorite subject at all . Too many tears and having her tell me she is stupid. I don't like that . That isn't what homeschooling our children is about.
I think that is the one issue I am having with cyberschooling my children . Is the fact that we keep having to plug on wether they have mastered a concept or not . This is not something I really believe in doing . I want to make sure that they understand what they are doing before we move on .
I've really contemplated going back to traditional homeschooling because of this . I would like to work more with Katie as 3rd grade is that transition to simple , fun learning to academic work . And I would love to stop for a bit and work on more of the math facts with Marilyn before moving on with this two digit division .

Hannah is finishing up PreK at our church . It is part time prek so I try hard to keep her busy with some things I find off the internet. But lately this isn't enough for her and she just wants MORE . She wants "School work " she tells me . So with that I'm thinking between the Rod and Staff ABC Series or Alpha Omega's new Preschool program for her . Choices , choices .