Wednesday, January 31, 2007
So, we had to do boys' school. This idea can be done with a bucket or a box or a piece of carpet. It can be done with any flash cards (math, latin, phonics) and is even better with something heavier like montessori-type letter tiles.
I put down a box and a stack of phonics cards. They can't step past the stack of cards. They pick up a card and try to read it (OO - has the sound of 'book' or 'moon'). If they get it right, they get a chance to toss the card in the box (notice the little toes in the background). If they get it wrong, they pass it to their brother. If he gets it wrong, Mama gets a chance to toss it in. We didn't keep score because it would've ended up in tears on a day like today (almost better, but not quite). They came in shouting WE WON!! WE WON!! at the end of the "game."
A TURN-ABOUT!! That's what I need for my new craft center! I think there are 15 divisions.
- Grown-up sissors
- Kid sissors
- Paint brushes (I can never keep track of those)
- Pens (places for red, blue & black)
- Glue Sticks
Woo-hoo!! This is EXCITING! Boy, am I glad I have a PAMPERED CHEF party coming up!!
Craft Center - the saga continues
I'm sure you're getting tired of reading about my craft center. So, don't bother reading this if you are. I've got one of these with all the kids' misc. crafts in them. What if I clear out the top cabinets of my craft center and put batteries, candles, extension cords, etc in my storage unit, which I will put under the desk. Then I can move the boxes under the desk to the top shelves and put the kids' craft stuff in clear shoe boxes on the shelves. I think they'll use them more if they're in the house instead of in the garage and if they're more organized.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Right now, I hear classical music drifting into the office as Dd#2 immerses herself in her passion of choice - piano. I don't know how sick she would have to be to not play for a day. She says a day without piano is like dying (she's a little melodramatic - Dave says she gets it from me).
Dd#1 was doing her passion, reading, until her eyes hurt so much she had to stop. Then she wanted to practice piano and instead of hearing classical music, it's Matchmaker music from Fiddler on the Roof.
The boys were feeling better and chasing each other with the dog's bone so that she was chasing both of them and didn't know which boy to get.
Then....the kids each started saying..."I don't feel very good." One by one they migrated to the couch and grabbed a blanket.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
Saturday, January 27, 2007
I'm still doing laundry and have to write lesson plans for Monday. I do them a month at a time, so then I'll be done until March comes around. (not with laundry, though). I also need to start planning a 30-day cooking session. We have NO FOOD in the freezer (except the 1/2 gallon of milk that I froze to use as ice for the cooler until it melted enough that we could drink it -- I forgot it in the freezer when I was packing the cooler for vacation.)
Off to change the laundry -- it's good to be home!
P.S. Dave bought me a digital camera from e-bay on Tuesday!!!! It should come any day!!! THANK YOU, SWEETHEART!
Monday, January 22, 2007
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Hi Jenn- I meant to ask you about one of your books...I think it was called History through Art... It looked really good, and I was just wondering where you got it and at what age you start using it! see you soon-Anne
The author is Visual Manna. I've been attracted to their type of art for a few years, but this is the first one I've bought. I especially like the description of their complete Art Curriculum, but haven't bought it yet. When I got Teaching History Through Art, I had to go through the book and choose which topics work with the history curriculum I'm using (Story of the World & R.C. History). I like the ideas - very diverse. I also like that it isn't written in teacher-ese. It gives a brief description of the project, a picture, and a recipe. I can figure most things out and just need ideas. It's not detailed instructions, but the instructions are just the right amount for me.
I haven't used much of it with my 1st grader. Some of the ideas would work with him, but it's a little messy to work in puple dye for Phonecians or plaster for Hittite reliefs and I'm a big sissy when a messy project comes up (you know trying to keep 4 kids on task and plaster off the dog who wants to see what's going on and the 4 year old who wants the dog to help). I have been using it with my 3rd & 5th grader more. R.C. History is so full, though, that I haven't been using it as much as I thought I would. As usual, I overbought this year.
Visual Manna has several different books for different cross-curricular subjects. Rainbow Resources has them pretty cheaply, although their shipping is a little expensive. Before I place a rainbow resources order, I usually send out an e-mail to see if anyone else is close to placing an order to go in on shipping together. Just search Rainbow Resources in their search bar for the name of the product or for Visual Manna.
Friday, January 19, 2007
My friend Cari wrote me this answer -
I got my kids a Kodak EasyShare C433 camera. It was on sale for $79 at Best Buy before Christmas, but I think there are places online that sell them for that regularly. With the camera alone, they could only store about 8 pictures before they would have to transfer them to the computer to make room for more. However, I bought a memory card for $20 that inserts inside the camera. That can hold about 450 pictures. It's a 4.1 megapixel; I really have no idea what that means except that cameras with more megapixels take better pictures. This one is good enough to print out really nice 4x6 pictures. We haven't tried printing ones larger than that, but when we blow them up to fill the computer screen they still look really nice (not grainy).What's your answer? What digital camera do you own? How much was it? Do you like or dislike it and why? Post your answers in Comments.
Wedensday, February 14, 2007
(Location) 10am -1pm
RSVP to (Name & Contact info)
Bring a dish to share for a potluck lunch.
- I choose themes like All Saints Day, Halloween, St. Patrick's Day, Valentine's Day, etc.
Select a location. Our local library has a room we can reserve for free that fits 40 kids comfortably. A local firestation also has rooms for free. A park in nice weather can be ideal! Often my date is determined by availability of my location.
- Select a time that is good for YOU, the organizer of the party. If you want to check with 1 other family, that's fine. Trying to accomodate multiple families' schedules though makes a party never happen. If you build it, they will come.
- Select a reasonable ending time. I usually choose 2-3 hours including eating time.
- Let people know this is happening. I e-mail invitations with all the information on them including the RSVP date. If I don't get a big enough response, I ask people who have signed up if there's anyone they know who might want to come. These parties are also effective with just 1 or 2 other families besides ours. They can be done in a home.
- I provide water & lemonaide (I'm the one with the big cooler), cups, napkins & plates and I organize it. I like potlucks. If you wanted to make it easier on the organizer, have everyone pack a lunch or don't do it over a meal time.
- Then when it's happening, I'll watch the time to make sure we have enough time to trick-or-treat or pass out valentines and eat lunch. I don't tie myself down to a craft or activity, but float. Sometimes a parent needs more help and I have to grab someone off another place. Or someone needs a supply they left in their bag. The kids also need to know when to change stations. (Usually, someone has to remind me to watch the clock or I get chatty and forget there are 30 kids having a party around me.)
- Each family is expected to bring something for the potluck as well as a craft or a game or an activity centered around the theme. They are in charge of paying for & bringing the supplies for their chosen activity or craft. This way we don't have to have a cost for the party. The exception to this is it may be easier for 1 person to get enough, say, pie pumpkins for the kids to decorate faces than for each parent to bring one for their kids. We also don't have to worry about a parent forgetting that detail for their kids and having kids feel left out. Then we charge the parents $1 per kid or however much to reimburse that 1 parent who bought the pumpkins.
- I usually end up having 5 or 6 different activities. I set up tables around the perimeter of the room and divide the kids by age into groups of 5-10 kids each. Then each group rotates around the room to a table. I allow about 20 minutes per table, then holler for everyone to switch.
- If it's Valentine's, the parents need to bring enough for each child - the same with treats for Halloween.
- 15-30 minutes to set up (everyone helps set the room up). Tables for each activity that needs a table, tables for food. I let everyone eat on their lap on the floor - see how I am?
- 1 hour for everyone to get a turn at each activity or craft table
- 20 minutes to do a group activity (either pass out candy or Valentine's or a group activity based around the theme of the party. It helps settle everyone down because they have to be quiet to hear me give instructions on the activity.
- To pass out Valentine's or candy, I either have the kids line up and let the parents move kid to kid or have the parents line up and have the kids go parent to parent. The other option is to have the kids line up and the last kid in line passes out candy to each person in line until they're the last person in line. Once the 2nd kid gets theirs from the 1st kid, they can go down the line behind him until he's the last one. It take some time, but is orderly.
- 30 minutes to eat & chat (you may need a little more for a potluck)
- 20 minutes to clean up.
- I usually try and give myself about 20 mintues wiggle room that isn't scheduled. That way I'm not pushing the kids to go faster to pass out Valentine's, etc. because I'm stressed.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
"Only God knows where the gold is. Right?"
"What?" (I have to look up and make eye contact to understand this converasation)
"Only God knows where the gold is. Right?!?"
(at this point I'm thinking veins of gold in caves...gold mixed with other things that needs smelted out...the gold in our hearts....) "What gold?"
"The gold that the pirates put in their treasure boxes and got buried under the sea when their ship sunk."
"Yes, God knows where the gold is."
"Because he saw where it went down. Right?"
"Because, God sees everything."
"Yes, God sees everything."
(with incredible excitement) "God knows where the gold is!"
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
I felt invigorated by the article. Cleaning my kitchen sounded so boring, but creatively re-doing my kitchen sounded much more exciting. Having the added benefit, albeit boring, of making my kitchen more efficent was icing on the cake.
I ended up doing almost everything suggested in the article. It talked about putting things where you use them. So, I moved the junk drawer from the side of the stove, to the drawer in the middle of the counter (where I actually cut things.) In the process of moving, I cleaned out my junk drawer, so I put measuring cups and spoons (the all-in-one kind from Pampered Chef - did I mention I'm having a Pampered Chef party 2/15/07?) in the junk drawer so they'd be where I bake (you know, on my counter...) I also cut in half a Capri-Sun box to separate and fit the measuring things together and the smaller sharp knives together. Well...not both of those things together, but each one with it's own kind.
I put the hot pads on the right side of the stove (since everyone in my family is right-handed, afterall) and moved my towel drawer to the spot to the left of the stove, but to the right of the sink -- see a pattern, here?
I also had a long think about the esk in the kitchen. I don't use it. It just stores the dog's water under it. The drawers are really where I keep the crayons, color books, glue sticks, etc. So....it's longing to be -- not an unused and therefore clutter-magnet-desk, but a craft center. (I can hear it calling out in longing to become this.)
I just started the process. I moved much of the craft kits the kids just got for Christmas that I still didn't have a place for and put them in a box under the desk. The dog doesn't need much space, does she? It looks yucky, but is very functional. I spent er-wasted about 30 minutes online (this is after the wasting of trying to avoid the kitchen) looking for pretty storage solutions for our new craft center (it's really still in the cocoon stage). I didn't find anything helpful or inspiring. Maybe I'll wrap the cardboard box in shelf paper to dress it up. I think the dog would mind a curtain cutting off visual access to her food & water. I haven't been able to visualize what a craft center looks like ontop of the desk to know what to do to keep it clear...but in the hopes I'll find a solution soon, I did clear it off. Hmmm... a raft Center.
That was my accomplishment Friday. We got all our school done, but I stayed up too late reading Hittite Warrior so I could discuss it with Dd#1 in the morning. That's the excuse I'm using for not getting more done on Friday. I'll have to come up with something else as an excuse for Saturday.
Monday, January 15, 2007
Friday, January 12, 2007
Since it was an 11th birthday, there was no "party." A cake (icecream cake that she made herself!) and rollerblades. Our local homeschool group sponsors quarterly rollerskating parties and one happened to fall on her birthday. We don't always attend, so I sent out a secret e-mail letting many of our homeschool friends know that our family would be there (in case they were on the fence about going), and that if their children wanted to surprise our daughter with a homemade card, it would be joyous thing to do! The response was overwhelming. I think she got around 35 cards! She occasionally tells me she doesn't have many friends, so I will definately be using this for amunition of how loved she is. Our homeschool friends and community have been such a source of wisdom, encouragement and joy for our family. If you haven't found a homeschool group that fits your family, keep looking. The reward is well worth the effort!!!
Thursday, January 11, 2007
It's geared to empower kids (like it talks about if you're riding your bike at the park with your friends - so I would think 11, 12, 13 age), but in the movie they show, it has lots of young children (5,6,7) and speaks to them, too. The guy we saw it from before said he did the presentation for his daughter who was about to go off to college. She was accosted while away at school and fended off the guy using the stuff her dad had presented to her. So, I think it's a pretty wide age range.
From their website :
Escape School is a nationally recognized abduction prevention program that
empowers children and parents by providing them with ways to recognize, avoid or
escape potentially dangerous situations. Offered in an entertaining and
non-threatening manner, the program teaches children how to differentiate
between good and bad strangers, the common lures abductors use, how to "get
away, right away" and how to find help when needed.
Is this similar to the "Stranger-Danger" programs that we heard about when we were young?
No, this is not a 'stranger-danger' program. Strangers are not necessarily bad people. In many cases, a 'stranger' may actually be the person who helps a child in a
potentially dangerous situation. In Dignity Memorial Escape School, we teach
children how to tell the difference between good and bad strangers by the way
they act and not by the way they look.
This is a national program and I've found the presenters in our area to be very eager to put this on for any sized group of kids. Check out their website to see if you can schedule one in your area!
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
I had prayed and committed to try and do school the way I know I'm called to. My children are pretty independent and do a good job at getting their own breakfast, helping each other, etc. I had largely taken myself out of the equtation and wanted them to come to me for questions, but do the rest on their own - the little ones still needed alot of hands-on Mama time.
So, yesterday, I tried to direct each facet of school and be as interactive with each subject as I could. By 10am I was ready to quit. 4 kids wanting 4 different things from me for the 3rd time that morning! My usual m.o. is to emotionally pull myself away so I don't end up yelling at them. I still attend to the things that have to be done, but I distract myself with something else that I'd rather do (not housework.) I prayed and tried to stay the course.
By 2pm, when we were NOT done with school - not really even close - I was exhausted and wanted to quit, again. The girls, however, were giddy with learning and asking me for more. They enjoyed their school day, even though I honestly overscheduled us in our lesson plans for the next 2 weeks (remember the vacation post? it's coming up and we just took all that time off!). They were happy to do the work and eager to stay on the same subject or to move on to the next one. They knew that I could make it enjoyable, even while holding them to a very high standard of behavior and work output. Let's see if we can keep it up today. One day at a time!
BTW - Hittite Warrior is a GREAT book!
Sunday, January 07, 2007
I buy alot of curr. from E-bay http://www.ebay.com/ . Once I search for the title of an item, I save it in my favorite searches. Then e-bay e-mails me for the next 6 months if that specific item gets posted. I bid some rediculously low bid (what I'm willing to pay - I'm a serious cheapskate) and if I don't get it, I just wait until someone else posts it. I've gotten TONS of incredible deals that way.
I look for a lot of Catholic items and have tried Catholic Swap, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/cathswap , but prices in other parts of the country and Canada are not the "yard sale" prices we're used to paying here in the midwest, so I don't find much that's a bargain. I have bought a few things from there, though. You just join it as a Yahoo group and when your membership is approved (a few days), you can post & search for what you want.
I've had good luck for Catholic items as a member of the message board at Oro Et Laboro, http://p105.ezboard.com/boroetlaboro . It's a message board you ask to join. They accept posts as (For Sale) FS: Title or (Want To Buy) WTB: Title of book. In the body of the message you can put whatever you're looking for and even how much you'd like to get it for. I use it more often as an INCREDIBLE resource for loving, grounded homeschool moms who will guide me in any quandry from finding yarn at Wal-mart to homeschool reviews and from pregnancy questions to graduation parties. Those women are God-sent. Read Catholic reviews of books & buy through http://tiberriver.com
Throughout the year, I'll buy used books through Amazon, http://www.amazon.com/ . I put in my book title and if there are used items for sale, they'll show up. I always keep in mind, though, that shipping for used items is $3.50 (about), so I add that to the price of the book to see if it's worth it to me.
We have 2 homeschool used curriculum sales in town in April & June put on by different groups. I rarely find Catholic materials, but BOY, do I find great prices on misc. books and curriculum!!
I have non Catholic friends who use All Used Homeschool Curriculum Board, http://homeschool.crecon.com/classifieds/classifieds.cgi (just type the title in the left-hand column search bar) and they also find things at a local bookstore that caters to the homeschool crowd. I haven't found things at either place - I guess I'm just difficult that way!
Then when I've exhausted these resources, I know, I'm going to have to pay for it new. This is where the final pare down happens. Is it really worth it to me? Will I really use it? Then, when I'm done with my last most painful deletions of the list...
I'll give what's left on the list to my little, local Catholic bookstore. I give them my list of book titles, author and publisher with the cheapest prices (such as Amazon) I can get it new and where I can get that (in case they need to look up an item they're unfamiliar with). I discussed it with them beforehand and they can get me 10-20% off the retail price of many new items when I spend a chunck at one time. I usually end up with $200-500 worth of new items I buy through them at a one time purchase. I don't get that discount if I buy just a few books at a time.
P.S. If that's not enough links for you, try www.geocities.com/Athens/8259/used.html - THAT ought to keep you busy for a while....
Saturday, January 06, 2007
These are things I have before I start.
- I already know my teaching style.
- I already know my children's learning style.
- I know what kind of homeschooler I want to be when I grow up (Classical, Eclectic, Traditional, Unschooler, and what mix of these I am).
- I have an idea of my general goals for our school (sainthood, doesn't stand out too much, academic excellence, satisfied with a reasonable effort, religious focus, well prepared for a trade.... and what mix of these seemingly divergent goals we're shooting for).
- I have an idea of my goals for each child for the upcoming year (one child may need a serious review of spelling, one may be eager for more challenging science, one may need to learn to read, one may need more social events, etc.)
If you don't already have the above somewhat fixed in your mind, you'll be better off sitting down with a few good books and getting some of it at least swirling around in your head. Since my head is already full of those things, and I'm full of other stuff that you might not want to be a witness to, I can move onto choosing books.
This is my process. I start somewhere in the middle of the year assessing what's working for us and changing what isn't with an eye to next year. Any thoughts, reviews, or druthers, I type or paste into my "Curriculum Wishlist" document. It started as a Word document, but it got too combobulated and I had to convert it to Excel. It's organized by child and by year I think I'll use that material.
My homeschool friends tell me I'm late to every event and early in my planning. Most don't start until after the school year has ended. I'm just a party-girl who likes my summers free! Sometime in the late winter or spring, I start a master list of In-my-wildest-dreams-I-could-afford-all-these-books. I make sure each main subject is represented. I may have 3 language arts curriculae on the list and still have to decide between them.
All spring long, as I'm paring down my book list (it usually starts out at about $5000 if I bought it all and I get it down to about 20% of that by the end of the spring for the 4 kids). I get lots of reviews & suggestions from :
- Oro Et Laboro http://p105.ezboard.com/boroetlaboro . It's a Catholic message board you ask to join.
- The Well Trained Mind K-8 Curriculum Message Board http://www.welltrainedmind.com/activeboards.php,
- Amazon reviews at http://www.amazon.com
- Homeschool Reviews http://homeschoolreviews.com/default.aspx to make my decisions.
As I allow reality to hit, I start deleting books off my list to pare it down.
- The first question I ask myself is if this would be a good fit for the child I'm buying it for. (The item has already appealed to me and my teaching style to get on the list, but I guess that would be the first-first question.)
- The second question is how would I use this item? As a supplement? As a spine? How many spine/supplements do I really need for one subject?
- The last question I ask myself is do I really have time in my school day to actually USE the item (We book-a-holics have to really buckle down to ask this question). Sometimes, I have to write out the kids' schedule to answer this question. Example: If I only want them to do foreign language for 30 minutes / day, do they have time to do the main curriculum I bought plus this foreign language readers?
I don't usually discard items based on price. I may have a cap that it's only worth $xx to me, but I don't delete it off my list because it costs so much from the publisher. That's what the next post is about...
Once I have my (mostly) finalized list, I buy as much curriculum used as I can. See the January 2007 post, "Where can I find used curriculum online?"
Thursday, January 04, 2007
I'm having a Pampered Chef party. If you know me, even remotely, you're invited. Thursday, February 15, 2007 @ 6:30pm.
It's a Valentine's Theme (a day late - the day after Valentine's - and a dollar short - I can get those conversation hearts 1/2 price, then! )
The special for attending a party in February is All Stoneware 20% off.
If you want to book a party, the February hostess special is 60% any 2 stoneware items. (I think January is cookware.) That's why I'M hosting a February party - I really want that New Traditions Cranberry Stoneware - at right. I've wanted them since they first came out, but they are REALLY alot. I also couldn't see spending the $$ when they weren't big enough for my family. I went to a party this fall (thanks, Julie) and MY consultant, Kim was doing the party. She said they came in bigger sizes, now. She also REFUSED to let me buy any cranberry at full price - she knows Dave really well, too. She told me if I wanted it, I had to have a party in February when I could get it at such a discount.
I won't feel bad at all if you don't come to my party, but want to book a party off my invitation. E-mail me and I'll get you my consultant's info to book a party. (See how altruistic I am??)
If you want to take a look at some products before the party, either stop by to look at the catalog (but not the cleanliness of my house), or go to the Pampered Chef website www.pamperedchef.com If you don't want to come to the party - because you're having major surgery that day, or really don't like me THAT much, I can take orders ahead.
REALITY : I LOVE throwing any kind of party, so you can come feast, maybe win a door prize and not buy a thing -- and I'll be thrilled that I even have friends. I like throwing parties so much that I'm even MAKING little door prizes... so I hope some people come who don't order ANYTHING, so they can just enjoy the door prizes I'm doing. That's what I call a PARTY - food, friends, and I don't have to cook!
Don't forget that Kim has a little something if you bring a friend (that I didn't already invite).
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Well, Maggie, our black lab was so happy that there were no longer presents under the Christmas tree blocking her view of the window. She watches out for ferocious dogs who happen to be casing our house to kill us all in our sleep who are pretending to take a walk with their masters on the sidewalk. On New Year's Eve, she saw a killer cockerspaniel and jumped on the window. That's how we discovered which replacement windows our windows take last year when she cracked one by jumping on it to get a killer chipmunk - btw, our windows take SPECIAL ORDER!
So, we're having a birthday party with our friends on New Year's Eve (Happy Birthday, John!), eating the chocolate covered nuts they brought, pretending to have fun like grown-ups (while the kids were running screaming through the house) and Maggie jumped on the window. she reared back (I'm sure to protect her family from that killer!) and fell into the Christmas tree, which promptly fell over. Dave jumped up to catch it, but missed. He tried to pick it back up again, but snapped the top off the tree. Upon examination, the base was also snapped. The ornament that had a sleigh with 6 little snowmen heads with each of our names on them that our friends had just given us an hour or so before ... had missing snowman heads for Jenn & Dave.
So on New Year's Day (to the tune of Let it Snow) we sang "Go to Lowe's, Go to Lowe's, Go to Lowe's". Then (to the tune of There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays) "There's no place like Lowe's for the Holidays...if you want to be happy in a million ways, for the Holidays you can't beat Lowe's Sweet Lowe's." Then we got there and in a large empty room I sang a solo of "No Christmas Trees, No Christmas trees..." We went to store after store - everything was either sold out or closed.
I have no pictures to show you, because...I DIDN'T get a digital camera for Christmas. I TOLD you I wasn't going to get one, but still you readers and co-bloggers got my hopes up...
So next year it looks like we'll have to pay full price for a Christmas tree. If only she'd knocked it over on Christmas Eve rather than New Year's Eve.