Saturday, September 29, 2012

Making your own paper...is pretty gross!

This week was a pretty fun week.  We didn't go anywhere so that might have had something to do with it.  We definitely get a lot more done at home when we aren't busy running around.  We had a few Scout meetings, but nothing too hectic.

Adisson breezed through homophones and we also worked on rounding numbers and estimation.  I wish he didn't hate math so much, and it's only about to get worse as we'll be reviewing multiplication facts, but maybe one day it won't be so bad.  (I really don't believe that as I type it.)  Necessary evils, I guess.  :)

Something that is new for us this week is our premium membership to Spelling City.  We've been using the free side of the site for our weekly spelling lists, review exercises, and online spelling tests, but I had no idea what I was missing out on by not having a premium membership, until now.  I've set up an account and login just for Adisson where he can sign on and see what assignments he has and when they are due.  Plus, I've added all of his vocabulary lessons because there are parts of the site set up just for vocab. lists.  Adi is getting to practice his spelling and vocabulary words in several different ways, which really reinforces what he's learned.  My favorite is the definition matching game, but his favorite is Speedy Speller.  :)

We talked a lot about ancient Egypt this week.  Adisson would love to visit all the places we talk about.  First, he wanted to see the Stele of Hammurabi on display in France.  Now, the Rosetta Stone, which is located in England.  We also, briefly, mentioned Old Faithful the other day, so now he wants to go there.

This week, after discussing ancient Egyptian writing, we tried our hand at making paper.  It was gross. :)  But here are a few of our pictures from that experiment!!

Our ingredients needed for homemade paper: blender, bowl full of newspaper squares,
and homemade hanger/pantyhose screens for the pulp.

Adisson getting ready to play with the icky stuff. 

We decided to add blue food coloring to our paper pulp.

A sink full of water, some glue, and a whole lotta gross, wet newspaper bits.  

Our homemade paper.  Adisson's on the left, mine and Zander's on the right.
Adisson's turned out REALLY nice!

A close-up of how pretty it turned out.  


Zander and I are still trying to find our rhythm and I'm not sure what's taking us so long. He really enjoys his computer work and we have a great time reading books together.  He participates in all of our science experiments and social studies projects.  I guess we just haven't found our niche yet.  We stopped by our local homeschool bookstore (AMAZING place, btw) and I picked up a few old Mailbox Magazines for Kindergarten.  Maybe a more purposeful lesson plan will help out with our day.

Jax has been enjoying his toddler busy "bag" activities lately.  I made several of them for him over the summer.  Instead of showing you pictures, I'm thinking I'll do a video blog on what we have/use/like here at our house.  Vlogging is a new idea for me, but I'm pretty interested in it so hopefully I'll have something for you soon!!

Well, that about sums up our week here.  I hope there's more fun to report next week as we continue on our adventures in homeschooling!



Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I love what I do!

I love blogs with pictures.  I love cell phones that work.  Sadly, I have neither of those things right now.  :)

I wanted to share with you one of the things I love most about homeschooling.  I get to learn! I know that might sound silly or ridiculous, but I never knew how much I didn't know until I started homeschooling.  Sure, the first few years, you're teaching basic stuff and you likely already know whatever you're talking to your kids about...but then they get bigger.  And school becomes just really fun!  Hectic, tiring, overwhelming, sometimes, but fun!

Adisson's favorite subjects are science and social studies.  He'd love to NEVER have to do language arts, spelling, or math.  We could read about ancient Egypt for the whole day and don't get me started on his love of science experiments.  I get excited, too, because sometimes I feel like I'm learning things for the first time.

This week is yet another busy one and next week is shaping up to be even more so.  But every few days we take a trip out to our home site and find out new things about building a house.  At our new house, we'll have half an acre of woods and the boys are ECSTATIC!  Bugs, sticks, dirt, trees....honestly, the environment was a large determining factor in us choosing that house, that subdivision (very secluded and private), that plot of land.  All so my little guys can spend time every day getting to see stuff, touch stuff, experience things that we wouldn't otherwise.

So the long and short of it....it's fun to be a homeschooling family when you love learning as much as we do.  :)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Seriously, another week has flown by already?

Wanna hear about our week?  It's been very hectic!

Sadly, that meant putting our big social studies projects on hold until next week.  I was disappointed and so were the boys.  We kept up with our "3 R's" this week, but kept it pretty light for science and social studies due to our busy schedule.  We did some small science experiments this week regarding temperature and solutes, solvents, and solutions.

Today, I spent a majority of my time getting things cleaned around the house as we have company this weekend!  My in-laws are here for a quick visit and we were busy getting the guest room ready and the house straightened up.  We had time this morning for language arts, spelling, and math.  Since we didn't get to our social studies today,  I decided the boys could at least spend some time playing some geography games online.  Adisson and I had fun trying to label all 50 states correctly on a blank map before our time ran out.  He also enjoyed playing timed geography spelling games.  That kid can get really excited racing against a clock.  Then, he played some online hangman.  He didn't realize he was practicing his spelling words. :)

Zander is working on writing his last name.  It's hard for him because he will only write in capital letters.  He ends up using the whole line for his first name and not having enough left for his last name. He also spent some time this week using the file folder games I made for him.  I've learned, though, that he's advancing beyond them and I need to make some that will be more relevant to his current level of learning.

Jaxon has been learning this week, as well.  We've been practicing his counting which is pretty good until he hits about 13 and then it gets a little out of order until he gets to 17 then he seems ok!  He's been fussing lately that he wants to have time on the computer, too, to do his school work.  I try to make sure he gets to play a little online, but it's hard when there's four people trying to use one computer.  I think another desktop computer is in our future so we can set up a computer lab.

I know I promised pictures this week, but my phone is still broken.  Ugh.  When you utilize a smartphone for a lot of everyday activities/information, it can be frustrating to be without it.  The new parts were to come in today, but did not make it here.  Hopefully, I can get it fixed this weekend.  Being married to a tech geek sure has its advantages.

Ok, tomorrow is going to be a tremendously busy day with our company so I'll wrap this up.  I hope you had a good week of homeschooling and a great weekend of family time ahead of you!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Refreshed (and tired) after a quick getaway.

We've been so busy in the last week!  I've got a great "what we've been doing" blog post coming up on Thursday.  Well, hopefully.  My iPhone is on the fritz (because it's old and I'm too cheap to replace it) and I'm waiting on parts in the mail so my tech-savvy husband can fix it and save me a bundle of money. :)  Anyway, it's what I use to take pictures of our school work (because it's infinitely easier to get my pics off of the phone than off of my husband's DSLR camera) so if it's fixed, pics are on the way.

I did want to update y'all on what we've been doing.  Right now, Adisson is learning about The Nile and the Stele of Hammurabi in Social Studies and conductivity and solutions/solvents/solutes in Science.  He's been practicing adding whole numbers in Math, suffixes in Language Arts, and lots of spelling words.  Zander is learning how to spell and write his last name, learning our address (though, it's going to frustrate him to learn a new one in a few months!), the days of the week, months of the year, and our phone number.  Plus, we're practicing counting to 100.  Jaxon is learning how to get out of trouble by making this super funny face that makes it impossible not to laugh.  :)

We just got home last night from a weekend at Myrtle Beach and it was AMAZING!  It's been two years since we've been to the ocean (WHAT?!!?!) and I forgot how much we loved it.  And we really loved it.  Jaxon, not so much maybe, but we had such a great time and I hope it's not another two years before we get back.  Thankfully, we're much closer now than we ever have been.  It was just an incredible weekend with my family.  I'm so very blessed.

In other, non-school news, we're still in the early stages of talking about what our options are regarding buying a home, I've found a wonderful doctor who has given me a lot of new (some good, some not so good) information, and I think I've planned all of Christmas out in my head. :)

Stay tuned for an in-depth look at our school week in a few days.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Back on track.

What a difference a few days can make.  :)

Adisson and I have been working really hard to get him caught up in the last two days.  I know I shouldn't be so schedule focused, but prior to this year, and prior to Time4Learning, I didn't do the job I should have done as a homeschool mom.  It didn't make a huge difference because Adi is a voracious reader and seemed to pick up what he needed, but I promised him (and myself) that things would be different for us this year.  I wanted him to know that I viewed his education as important and a priority...not something we just fit in when we could.  So I have a schedule.  And if we miss a day, I want to make it up.  And we do.  :)

This week we've been talking about antonyms and synonyms for language arts.  Adisson knows what they are and what they mean, but he's struggled a few times with antonyms.  I know if he would slow down and read things carefully, he'd do MUCH better but he's not hearing me when I explain that to him.  Using a computer based curriculum is great, but I also like to reinforce what we're learning with supplemental worksheets, especially if he's struggling.  Thankfully, I found a teacher resource page that had a few synonym and antonym worksheets for extra practice.  We worked on it again today and he seemed to understand things much better and breezed right through the lesson.

Math is going pretty well so far this week.  He's been doing less than/greater than and he LOVES that because he's good at it.  I don't have to hear him grumble when it's time for math.  We've saved a lot of our big science and social studies lessons for tomorrow and Friday because I wanted to spend most of the day focused on those two subjects.  I'm hoping to add several pictures soon of what we worked on this week, along with a more detailed blog post about what we've learned.

The beginning of our school year has been a little hectic, of course, and my big focus has definitely been on Adisson and starting his fourth grade year out strong.  I definitely want to take more time doing other things with Zander, though.  I want him to know that his school work is just as important to me.  He LOVES doing his school stuff on the computer and really enjoys his online kindergarten games, I just want to be sure that when it's his turn, he gets my undivided attention, too.  I'm hoping to add in a few things next week that are just for him.  I don't want my poor middle kid to ever feel like he's just lost in the shuffle.  :)

It's been a long day.  School was busy, dentist appointment this afternoon, mowing this evening (I hate to do it, but I always feel like She-Ra when I do some manly task all by myself!), and doing dishes while the boys turned the hallway into a bowling alley (literally).  I'm going to go lay down, watch a chick flick I've been meaning to see, and call it a day.  :)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Good intentions, huh?

How did my best laid plans get interrupted already?

I hate when I schedule things and they don't get done.  It really irritates me.  Then I get irritated that I'm irritated.  :-/

On Friday, I spent a large majority of the day cleaning and organizing.  My husband will be out of the area on a lengthy TDY trip (that's army-speak for "out of town for work") soon and I'm desperate to get a laundry list of tasks done before he leaves.  I am NOT changing the air filters in the ceiling...and other tales of an army wife... :)  As a result, I was not able to stand over Adisson's shoulder while he worked and he didn't get everything done.

Last night, I reworked this week's schedule to include any missed assignments from Friday.  It was going to make for a heavy workload today, but I was sure we'd get through it.  I had a doctor's appointment this morning that I thought would be quick, fast, and in a hurry.  I figured I'd be home before ten and then we would have the whole day to get school work done.

Errrrrnt.  (that's the sound of a buzzer or something.  It says "wrong!!")  I was at the doctor's office ALL MORNING.  It was a very productive appointment but it messed up all my plans.  Ugh.  I got home, fed the boys, and laid down on the couch.  Then I decided to get everyone loaded up in the van to go look at a model home.

Because on top of Adam leaving for awhile, on top of being sick (more on that at the end), and on top of homeschooling the boys, we're buying a house.  And not just any house.  A house that hasn't been built yet.  Yep.  I like to cram it all in together.

So then we spend a few hours looking at houses and our potential new neighborhood.  We love it.  I mean, LOVE it.  I take the boys to McDonald's to say thank you for being so good while I was talking to the builder's rep. and by the time we got home, it was 7:00.  And still no work done today.

Sigh.

So I feel a little defeated.  Week three and we're behind the eight ball.

(Note: I have an immune deficiency.  Prior to moving to NC, I received regular blood treatments for the disorder but when we relocated, it took me a long time to get the process started up again.  Now I'm back to getting my care figured out and this time with the aid of a great doctor who understands my condition.)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I wish I could bottle the "new school year" excitement!

Week Two has started off well.  Around here, I celebrate even the smallest victories!

This year, I'm hard at work on a few key areas in our homeschool.  The first of which is the most fun...PROJECTS!  The boys love projects and truth be told, I love them, too.  It can be difficult to work on a project with a toddler running around toilet papering the house, but I'm doing the best I can to keep him involved and entertained.  It really doesn't help that he's trying to give up his nap time right now (this Mama is NOT ready for that!!).  Time4Learning's homeschool Social Studies and Science often have smaller projects sprinkled throughout the lessons that require minimal supplies and set up time so I've promised we'd try to include those as often as we can.  This week, that means that we are cave painting, cuneiform making, and mold growing. :)  Adisson is thrilled!!  We've completed our painting and cuneiform writing.  Tomorrow, we'll start our bread mold science project.

Clockwise from top left: Mine, Jaxon's, Zander's, and Adisson's ancient Mesopotamia cave writing.

Adisson's clay tablet.  We had such a good time with this!

And our next (and biggest) area to improve on is math.  Math is not Adisson's strong suit and as a result, he doesn't enjoy it. Of all subjects we spend time on, math is his least favorite.  Fortunately, he definitely enjoys online math over workbooks.  We still use worksheets to reinforce learned concepts, but he definitely seems to gain the necessary math skills quicker if he's working online.  So far, the start of this year has been review and he's really good at the concepts he's been reviewing.  I hope that helps build up his confidence when things get a little more difficult as the year progresses.  I have no exciting math pictures to share with you.  :)  How exciting are math worksheets anyway?  But so far all of them have a nice smiley face stamp on them, so that's good news.

On a side note, Zander gets a sticker on his papers for a job well done and Adisson has decided that he's "way too old" for that and would like a stamp instead.  The only stamps I have are some marker stamps I picked up from the dollar store.  When I was shopping last weekend, I looked all over the place for some neat little stamps and the only ones I found were girly ones.  That would not work here. Where have all the stamps gone?  :)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Week One: Done

We finished our first week of school!  But because I haven't posted them yet, here are some pics of my goofy guys on the first day of school.  I have nicer pictures on the camera, but I snapped these with my phone when they were being silly.  I love the silly pictures the best!! :)


My little duck face. :)  
Forever a pirate.  

This is the "Ok, stop now, be serious," pose I got.  

Zander was excited every single day he woke up, ready to start school.  He's got that Kindergarten zeal that I love so much.  He's in love with learning right now and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it!  Especially since my oldest son feels like he should not be bothered with school.  Sigh.  We're working on attitudes around here, too, but it's no surprise to me where he gets it from...I've met his parents.  

Jax really wants to be included, so he often is.  We spend most of our day in the school room.  I'm so glad we made the decision a few months ago to switch some rooms around and make the "bonus room" our school room instead of just the toy room.  It's been a huge blessing and it's what keeps all three boys engaged all day.  While Adisson is working on his Time4Learning at the desk, Zander is at the school table working on his handwriting or coloring or just telling me a story, and Jax is over at the train table playing.  This enables Jax to feel included so that when we start doing something fun, he's right there.  And if we are ever doing a project, there's Jaxon sized materials available.  By kid #3, I've got the hang of making sure everyone is included.  :)

I've done a pretty good job staying "in front" of everyone's lessons, too.  I know what's upcoming and I'm ready for it when it happens.  But as with lots of other homeschool moms, the bliss of educating kids at home  in September can fade to throwing up the white flag by February (or sooner).  :)  I'm hoping we can keep some sort of momentum.