Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Welcome to China!
Where, um, there's a great wall.
The real one is slightly bigger, and is likely not usually referred to as "Emily."

The kids came up with their very own "props" for the picture. The Hideaways planner suggested helping them make cardboard bows and arrows. We, on the other hand, went even more peaceful:

Now on to the Arctic for this week's project: an IGLOO!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Week Four

We're on a roll!
The Great Wall of China, nicknamed "Emily" by the girls, is in progress still. We finally bought some brown paint so the project for tomorrow will be to bring it to life.

We almost made it through everything on the list for last week, but Friday I was sick so we quit early. I'm still not better, but hopefully by tomorrow I'll have enough energy and voice to do what we need to do.
Here are the books we'll be using this week. Yes. This *week.* I knew WinterPromise wat literature-rich, but I don't think it hit me just how many different books we'd look at in any given week. Thankfully, the girls enjoy them all.
Well, not the "Mastering First Grade Skills." I'm realizing that the math pages, which are definitely pulling teeth here, are not necessary as we'll do the bulk of it in our math curriculum. So I'm lightening up on that one.

The badge system continues to work wonders. I found this organizing container, originally from IKEA, sitting unused in my husband's office. Jasmine thought it would be perfect for the badges! So I pull out the things we need to get done for the day, to be sure we get through the spelling list for the week and that we chip away at the hideaway each day, and then she gets to choose beyond that. Now that she's realizing the benefits of it, she's much more eager to do things she used to balk at, because she knows how good the prizes are for completing the badges in any one color.

Everything's all ready for school tomorrow! Even me!

Not entirely related...here's her first spelling list. I won't let her make smiley faces on her handwriting work, but for other things, if she wants to take 10 times as long and make it all very, very, very happy, she's allowed!!

She has decided that coloring is a waste of time. So hopefully we won't have many coloring assignments to either fight our way through or skip over...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Egypt, a Conclusion

Today we got caught up, finishing almost everything from week 2 (and one final page from week 1).
It only took three hours, but Jasmine finally got the counting-to-100 page finished.
To get her through this ordeal, I started coaching her in Turkish. She could figure out what I meant by my body language and the fact that it wasn't too hard to figure out what followed 38 ;) It was fun to use my now-rusty Turkish, and to be appreciated for doing it!
Then Bekah started "speaking" "Japanese," which made for some interesting conversations.

As a celebration of the finished chart, we went straight on to the Mummy project.
And had a blast!

First was Jasmine. Bekah tried to help, but I bought really cheap-o toilet paper that kept ripping. So it ended up being mostly me.
(note the fairy "charm")
and then doing her Thriller "scare" pose:

then we undid her and did Bekah's! Jasmine was able to help much more, doing a majority of the work herself.

(yeah, I know. No consistency in the post-processing. I couldn't decide what look to go for).

We then bought the single "Walk Like An Egyptian" and added it to an "Egypt" playlist. With two other songs: Keith Green's "So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt," and "Thriller." Yeah, I know that's actually about zombies, but it was close enough. And two songs a playlist doesn't make!

Then we tackled the "personal pyramid" project. We ended up not making the hideaway at all...this will have to do. We need to get out for some larger boxes!!
But this came out cute and was fun!

Inside, we put pictures of each of the three kids, and then mummified this willing fairy:

All in all, a successful day, and a fun learning experience for all of us!

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Detour: Pirate Day!

We're supposed to be making a pyramid this week. But our boxes aren't big enough, so I kept putting it off.

So, since this morning's Homeschool Playdate was a Pirate Day, we made today Pirate Day!

We're working on memorizing Matthew 6:21: "for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Bekah has it cold. Jasmine likely does too, but likes to play games and pretend she's not paying attention. (the story of our life).

Hudson couldn't wait to be a part of all of this, too. He wanted the bandanna on his head just like the girls!

We had a fabulous time. They made hats:

They heard two pirate stories:

They played games (this one is "shooting cannons" to the other side to try to sink their ship.)

and had pirate-y snacks.

So we came home and made a pirate ship. This box will be reused later in the year, when it's time to make the Mayflower, at which time we'll take the extra time to paint and decorate it. But for a quick-and-easy ship, it worked!
 We'll listen to songs from Pirates of Penzance (the only piratey music I had on hand) when Hudson wakes up from his nap. We may do a little more, but I may just call it quits for the week! It's been a big week!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Week One: Complete!

It only took two weeks, but week one is now complete!
I'm hoping that, as we get into a groove (our new system definitely helps), we'll pick up speed and actually get things done in the allotted four days. But we're all learning and getting used to new structure, so I'm not worried.

The cave is finished! It's on the (enclosed) porch now, because I'm tired of stepping on little pieces of Easter grass. (whose idea WAS that, anyways? Oh, mine? Oh. Whoops).

Jasmine drew a mermaid inside. Bekah drew herself, and Hudson just drew his favorite kind of artwork...scribbles over the girls' work. 

We don't have big enough boxes for this week's project yet, so I need to get moving on that. I'm excited about making a pyramid with them!!
Jasmine is loving the book on the Mummies. Right now she thinks science is her favorite subject, and that math is "easy." She loves doing simple addition in her head, and she's doing very well at it. The math curriculum is fun and easy and we fly through the lessons, but I love that she considers "math" to be mental computation. Definitely something she can take with her into adulthood!
(yes, I know I had been using J, B and H to name the kids before. I was getting confused, and I knew their real names!! I figured real names helped keep the stories clearer, and it's not like I don't mention their names on my personal blog!)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Cave is almost done!

I'm going to have them use markers to do the cave drawings, instead of paint. The box is too small for them to use paint in there!

But the outside is finished! Good thing I bought a huge container of green paint!
We used Easter grass as well. It doesn't stick on terribly well, but I like the look of it!

New Organizing Technique

I have a contrary daughter. I can't figure out where she got it from (ha! Mom will clear up *that* confusion in a heartbeat!)
So just telling her what happened, and when, wasn't going to work.
It was time to re-think things!

I made little square badges for each thing we cover over a week's time...one square for "math," one for "Right Into Reading" page(s), etc. There are 5 colors of squares. They're all laminated and (will) have velcro on the back.
Then I made up five laminated sheets of large paper, and have the day written on the top of each one. There are 12 velcro backs on each paper (um, confession; I didn't count to see how many squares we'll use in an average week. I'm hoping less than 60!)
At the beginning of the week, I'll pull out the appropriate squares of what's in the syllabus for the week, and give her the box of squares. She can then choose what she wants to do, and when. If she wants to do all the crafts one day, she can. If she's in the mood to sit and listen to me read, she can.
There are a couple "help mommy" squares in there too!
When she finishes all of one color that week, she can choose one of the yellow squares, on which are written fun things we don't do often. I haven't decided yet if those will be randomly chosen, or if she can read them all and decide. There are pros and cons to both. (they're things like "rearrange a room," "color with markers," "make cookies," "get a toy out of the attic," etc)

When the last square for the week is done, she'll get something else. Those are slightly "bigger" prizes, like rearranging a room. Good thing we enjoy the organizing!

I'm hoping today is a sign that this is going to work well, because we've had an awesome day so far! I'm very encouraged and excited.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Vowel Zoo

(Mommy Note: I had to do a quick explanation of the difference between a "bowel" and "vowel." The way J wanted to do it, this would have been a very unpleasant game!)

J: "I know about big letters and little letters. Big letters mean their sounds. Little letters mean their sounds in their words. (I'm done)."

H discovered he can really make mommy's eyes get big by flattening the paper "die" and playing with the paper "guys" with his pear-juice-covered hands! He enjoyed watching us play the game! (and B slept. She rarely sleeps anymore, but it's sweet when she does!)
We're having a more gradual start to our homeschooling career. Instead of trying to do everything every day, since we have lots of time before schools usually start, we're doing a part of the plan each day.
Getting head colds slowed us down even more than expected!
The kids love their cave. We haven't gone back and painted it...in the rain and humidity, it took 24 hours until the papier-mache  was dry. I'll get "after" pictures next week!
Overall, a decent start to the week. Not quite the "perfect" week, but that's probably good. It forced me to re-evaluate my goals and expectations right at the outset, and hopefully that means I have a more realistic view of what the kids can handle each day. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

First Hideaway

J didn't want to wait until tomorrow to actually make our first hideaway. She's been going through the book, over and over, looking at all the cool creations, anxious to try.
So we went for it!
We created our cave.
(B voluntarily cleaned the floor after the creation. I wish I could clone her. I would be rich beyond my wildest dreams.)

Tomorrow we make it look more like a cave...

Day 1, Part 2

We did the second half of Day 1 this morning. As awful as yesterday was, today was that good.
(well, other than the 40 degrees and rain, and the fact that I had to deal with a wet bed after breakfast....)

J flew through her topics. We took a couple little breaks to keep things fresh, and I wrote a list of what needed to be covered. She chose which thing she wanted to do, and after doing it she put a check mark in the box she'd made. It gave her a feeling that she was contributing and not just the passive learner.
She did her handwriting. I would show it, but it's her name and address, and that's not what I ever post online ;) It's adorable. At some point she'll have to learn that, if you run out of room, you don't put the "extra letters" inside one of the previous letters. She says, "don't worry. I know where they are," but I tried to explain that it interferes with our ability to read it.
She did the rest of her language arts work, and then we read about the beginning of history. I then took some of my old backdrop paper and let them paint. (perfect reusing of paper that no longer works for taking pictures!)

It was supposed to be like cave paintings, where they wrote about what life is like now.
J painted a lovely, blue-haired mermaid.
B painted "a circle."
H painted "prickers" (as stated by B). It's hard when you're 2 and given a Q-tip.
(Top left: B's circle. Bottom left: J's mermaid. Note the blue hair, floating in the water. Right: H's "prickers.")

Monday, May 2, 2011

First Day

The sun was shining. A perfect 70 degrees. The birds were chirping.
The kids bounded out of bed, excited to start the day.
We flew through everything, watching their eyes light up as they learned.

Well, that's how it looked in my head, anyways.

That sun is probably shining somewhere. It sure isn't doing much around here. I think we've had a total of one day of sunshine since "spring" started (which is why my tulips *still* haven't bloomed). The birds might have been chirping, but as it's raining, we don't have the windows open to hear them. Our parakeet, named Casey by B, was happily chirping. So that's something!
B woke up sad because H was already out of bed. She doesn't like to think she's alone when she wakes up, and she can't see J in the upper bunk so doesn't realize she's not alone.
The kids went up after breakfast to check on J, not realizing she was still asleep, and in the process woke her up. Never a good start to her day!
We started with math. They've already done the first 8 lessons (we're using RightStart math) so we jumped into lesson 9...after I found the abacus and tally sticks in odd places around the tiny room.

Bekah had fun "hiding the table" with the popsicle sticks I used until the tally sticks were found.

We got through science (today was just reading about what science is), and Bible ("I already *know* this story!)
We'll do the rest of it tomorrow. We all need a little time to get used to the routine and what's involved in school. She's a little nervous about the first book we're reading, thinking it's a little on the hard side. But she'll get it.