Hello Again!

Hello there readers!

For those following along you know it has been FOREVER since I have written.  We had a new addition to the family in September and things have been hectic as we all adjust to what the new monster baby (MB) means for our schedules and daily life etc.

When MB was first born, we took several weeks off from schooling because Mama was nothing short of a zombie (not that I am any better now, I have just adjusted to it!).  I “made time” for that this summer by keeping up with our schooling on the weeks that LK and BK didn’t have camp, so instead of “summer break” we had “baby break”.

Once we started back up we kept going with Build Your Library grade 3.  Of course we are using it for 2 kids now, age 6 and 8, and I haven’t had any trouble adapting it to use easily with both kids.  The hardest part is getting LK to do the copy work but I had similar trouble with BK back when he was her age, so I know if we just keep it up she will get used to it.

The focus with this grade of BYL is the early modern world and microscopes/chemistry.  We have read many awesome books so far including Out of Many Waters, Mandy,  and The Ghost in Tokaido Inn.  The readers with this grade (first grade level with readers for BYL) have been excellent too and my kids have enjoyed all the books so far.

We have also kept up with Math Mammoth.  BK has moved on to book 3B and LK has moved on to book 1B and both are excelling using that program.  I am still very impressed with how the books teach the lessons and how little I have to actually help them understand the concepts.

It has all been going really well but last week I decided that we need a break from “the usual” and the mid-winter doldrums have hit, so I have switched things up a bit! We got as far as finishing week 12 of grade 3 and as it turns out, the reader *and* the literature book both end that same week so it was a good chance to take a little break.

Instead, we have been doing the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone unit study (also from BYL) for our literature/main component and I have added in the reading of Born with a Bang for our science section.  A lot of the Born with a Bang stuff seems a bit over their heads (duh, at 6 and 8 years old) but I like exposing them to it anyway so when we talk about it more in depth as they get older they will already be familiar with it, on a basic level.  We have also done a couple of science experiments (seen in pictures below).

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For math we are taking it “easy” and have gone back to the Excel Math curriculum that I bought and used over the summer.  It is great review and is good for practice etc but I wouldn’t trust it as a main curriculum, the lessons are just too short and the spiral nature of it can be confusing for my kids.  Math Mammoth is a much better fit but takes longer in the day to day to complete a lesson.

For history I am “cheating” and we are watching Mankind the Story of All of Us.  It is a good enough show but it isn’t 100%.  Again, just good for them to be exposed to the ideas in the show.  They seem to find it engaging enough and it is a good break from Story of the World.

Right now BK and LK are both doing basketball through our local parks and rec department.  This is BK’s third year doing it and LK decided she wanted to try it out too.  It has been great for them overall though the 3rd/4th graders play with much more zeal than the 1st/2nd graders do so that has been a pretty big adjustment for BK.

In all we are doing well, just super busy.  With any luck I will do a little better at keeping up with the blog, we will see!

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What Our Days Look Like!

I thought I would do an updated version of what our days look like.  This is what a normal day looks like at our house, times listed are the only ones that are relatively consistent.

7:30 I get up, get out school work, have a drink, call the kids down.

7:40 I call the kids down.  They eat breakfast.  While they eat I do my exercise (sometimes walking, sometimes kettlebell….varies between 15 and 30 minutes).

Once I am done that the kids are usually done eating so I shoo them off to get dressed, clean faces, and brush teeth.  I know this isn’t something that is important to a lot of homeschooling families but I prefer to keep a routine of them being presentable because we have errands and appointments on various days and for me (and my kids) it is just easier to keep it all routine.

When they are dressed I check in on their math work and make sure they know what they are doing.  I check to make sure LK can read the problems that she needs to and set them started on that while I go take my own shower for the day.

While I shower they work on their math and start their workbooks.

Workbooks include Scholastic Grammar, 180 Days of Reading, Explode the Code (for Little Kid), and Daily Language Review (for Big Kid).  They are all pretty short and are just good primers/review for the kids.  It is also a good way for me to be sure BK is doing all right with his reading comprehension, as that was one of his weakest areas though he has improved leaps and bounds.

By the time I am done my shower they are usually working on copy work for the day.  Sometimes I have to help them out, especially LK, with the workbook stuff they didn’t understand/ couldn’t read, but usually they are pretty self-motivated.

With that covered BK reads aloud to LK (and myself) from our history reading for the day.  With that done he reads science to her and then they do the science activity that goes along with it.  I help as needed, usually with pronouncing the words.  Most of them he knows, but sometimes needs a bit of help.

With all that done it is usually around 10:30 or 11am.  If we have errands or appointments they are scheduled for around 11ish and we go.  If we don’t have appointments/errands the kids play until lunch time, usually outside.

At noon we have lunch and that usually ends up lasting until around 1pm because LK takes FOREVER to eat.  Seriously, I don’t understand how she could possibly take that long.  While they eat I read aloud from whatever book we are covering with BYL.

Once lunch is done they play some more.  Sometimes outside, sometimes inside, sometimes they get computer time.  This depends a lot on the day.

At 2pm everyone goes for a rest, including Mama.  The kids go to their own rooms where they are free to play, read, or sleep as long as they are quiet.  We all use this time to have our own space and time to be apart from each other.  Pregnant Mama uses the time to take a nap, watch TV, do housework, or whatever else (sometimes even read my own books!).

At 3:30 we all get up and hang out until I have to make dinner.  The kids play boardgames, they play outside, we go swimming, they torment (I mean play) with the cat, whatever the day calls for.

We eat dinner at 6pm and then typically watch Jeopardy at 7.  From there eventually the kids go to bed and then read for 15-20 minutes before falling asleep only to start it all over again the next day!

Obviously things change slightly depending on what activities the kids are signed up for.  If there are “after school” activities dinner gets moved around.  If there are homeschool related activities things get shifted around.  The plus side is homeschooling is quite flexible so if we need to move things or not do workbooks or whatever it isn’t a big deal!


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The Last Few Weeks…

Hello all!

It has been a busy few weeks.  Last week we started back up with Build Your Library.  We are on grade 2 and we completed week #27.  I prefer it, SO VERY MUCH, compared to Moving Beyond the Page.  I can’t quite figure out why other than I feel like MBtP is a lot of busy work with no real substance.  BYL is just more our style I guess.  Little Kid did very well on her first week of it so that was great, I was wondering how she would do.  Doing BYL does mean a bit more “work” for BK because he has to read history and science aloud so that LK can understand it.  She probably COULD read it, at least part of it, but it is easier for her to understand if he reads it to her.

We started The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.  It is an AWESOME story.  I am so glad it has been included in the curriculum.

For science we covered grasslands and rain forests.  They read about them and then colored in pictures about each of the areas.  This was great for LK because she loves coloring.  We also have 9 monarch caterpillars that are growing up in our habitat.  They are so much fun to watch even though we did it last year, it is fun to do it again.

LK did her first copy work this week too.  I wasn’t sure how she would do with it but she did wonderfully.

We have kept up Language Lessons and Excel Math.  Both kids do really well with Excel Math and math recall has FINALLY kicked in for BK.  I kept waiting for it to click and it happened.  I am so happy to see him get 12 + 2 is 14 (and similar) without even thinking about it.

The week before last  the kids spent at horse camp.  It wasn’t what I was expecting based on the brochure but the kids both had fun so that’s helpful at least.

This coming week I am not quite sure what we are going to do! The kids are going to spend the day at the fair with grandparents for one of the days but beyond that I am not sure if we are going to fit another full week in or not! Time will tell!

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Back Again!

Okay, so, I haven’t written in about 6 weeks.  The truth of the matter is I haven’t had the brain power to do much of anything by the time the kids go to bed at night so I will take the chance to update now…and there are quite a few updates to be done!

1. For those that don’t know (I am guessing a lot of my normal readers know but people that stumble on the blog via search engines etc don’t) I am currently pregnant and due at the end of August.  It is a great deal of why my brain power and energy haven’t been up to par with keeping the blog updated.

2. Little Kid finished school last week.  She chose to be homeschooled for 1st grade so she will be joining in on our schooling.  I am VERY excited to have her back home with us and even more excited at being able to make our own schedule vs having to work around the bus schedule etc.

3. The kids both have 3 weeks of camp this summer so we are going to continue doing schoolwork but I am modifying things slightly for the summer.

The plan of attack for this summer looks something like this:

Excel Math for both kids.  A worksheet a day on the weeks there is no camp.  I got 1st grade for LK and 3rd grade for BK.  This will help keep them up to par on math without requiring a lot of in depth lessons for the summer.

First Language Lessons.  I am planning on doing this from the very beginning with both kids at the same time.  A lot of it may be “easy” for BK but I haven’t done any formal grammar lessons with him and it will be easier to just keep them on the same page, so to speak.

Lunch time reading.  I plan on reading a chapter book to them over the course of the summer during lunch time.  We are going to start with Jurassic Park.  We will read that for as long as it takes then I will pick something else.

Moving Beyond the Page.  I got BK the water cycle unit and the Charlotte’s Web unit.  BK and LK will both do the water cycle activities and BK will do Charlotte’s Web on his own, though I may have him read aloud to LK.  I haven’t decided yet.

Phonics.  I will continue to work with LK on phonics/reading skills over the summer in hopes of having her be a pretty decent self reader by the time fall gets here.  We have Explode the Code and we also have a couple of word family books to work with as well as many Leap Frog reader phonics books.  She has a pretty good grasp on all this already but I want to be sure her confidence is there by this fall.

In all, I expect it to be a busy summer.  Once we get back into the swing of things after this baby is born I got a unit of Moving Beyond the Page for LK and we will resume the work on Build Your Library with BK (we have gotten as far as week 27 of Grade 2).  It is just easier to have things that are more simple to transition into/out of for the summer when the schedule can be all over the place and when I will be having good days and bad.

So there you have it!  Nothing to fancy or exciting I am afraid, but I am still here and will try my best to keep the blog a bit more updated!  This week both kids are at a TKD camp and are *loving* it, which is awesome.  I am hoping they will want to sign up for lessons this fall as it will help LK with her confidence and BK with his focus.

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Still Trucking!

We are still here and still trucking along with homeschooling!

We took a week off when Little Kid had her break from school.  We were super busy that week so I called off homeschool too!

We have been studying geology for science, which has been a lot of fun. We “made” a sedimentary rock, which was admittedly challenging to find the materials for as it has been a LATE spring here.

We have been reading Where the Mountain Meets the Moon for read aloud.  I am quite fond of this book and BK seems to like it too.  It is really well done and engaging.  This time I tried to buy it on the Kindle, which works, but isn’t ideal for the way I like to do things.  Normally I look ahead and pick spelling/vocab words out of the book we are reading and it isn’t as easy to “flip through” a book, so to speak, on the Kindle as it is with a real paper book.  I can (and sometimes do) use the vocabulary words that Build Your Library suggests, but sometimes I like to go a bit “off book” too.

In math we have kept up with triple digit addition and subtraction.  I have also added in timed math drills, one a day, to work on memorization of simple math facts.  For whatever reason BK hasn’t mastered memorizing the math facts despite working on it in many different ways, and still counts on his fingers for each math problem…so I have started drills where he has 60 seconds to get 20 problems correct and if he can do that 3 days in a row he gets to “move up” to the next number (he passed 0, and 1…and is now working on 2).

We finished off the Handwriting Without Tears cursive book last week so that has officially been completed.  What I need to do now is pick a keyboarding/typing program because it would be awesome to have him home row typing soon.

History has been more of the Middle Ages.  Last week was a week long bit about Marco Polo which BK found interesting.  I had him read this book aloud to me for a page or two each day to make sure he is pronouncing words correctly.  He usually does well enough but there are some that I have to help him with, which is why I find having him read aloud to me so important.

We also found some frog eggs in the pool (when it was still more of a pond) so now we have ALMOST got tadpoles.  The eggs are wiggling etc so it won’t be long, maybe even tomorrow.  Then we will feed them and care for them and watch them transform into frogs! I am probably more excited than the kids about this as this is yet another neat thing we never got to do when I was a kid in public school!

Last week I also purchased Grade 3 from Build Your Library.  Grade 2 has gone well, and we are only 22 weeks in (out of 36) but there was a sale so I ordered it.  I also opted to get it printed out.  When I got Grade 1 I printed it out and kept it in a 3 ring binder.  For Grade 2 I decided to see if I could do it just keeping it as a PDF on the computer.  While the PDF option works, it isn’t awesome overall and I find it makes things more challenging, so for Grade 3 (and what’s left of Grade 2 for us) I had it printed out and shipped to me from Fedex printing.  It worked well and I did it all online, which was awesome.  I got both of them spiral bound as well.

Anyway, that is where we are at right now! Starting week 22 tomorrow.  Hard to believe that in just 6 weeks Little Kid will be here with us full time! I can’t WAIT for her to be back! She seems excited about homeschooling too so hopefully it stays that way.

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We have been slacking!

Yes, for real.  Not just me either.

We have taken 2 weeks to decompress a bit.  The long winter here in the northeast is taking it’s toll on our motivation and state of mind so we have been taking it easy…with plans to dive back in starting tomorrow.

What we HAVE been doing is just the basics.  We do math, creative writing, and reading comprehension every day and Big Kid always reads on his own too.  Otherwise we have been mostly goofing off and playing.  Taking in the sun when it presents itself.

We have also worked on our paper castle.  I have discovered I am NOT good at this.  Big Kid does well with it, but I am not terribly crafty or good at construction.

I know I have been quiet, but that is why! There hasn’t been a whole lot to report on! Big Kid is still doing Ju Jitsu and Climbing Team.  We still have homeschool group every other Tuesday.  The upcoming weeks are pretty busy too so we will see how it all plays out!  Spring time (if it ever shows up!) means a lot of time outside.  I can’t wait!

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Our Little Routine!

One of my readers asked about our daily routine and while the time varies slightly it is pretty standard overall so I thought I would share.

First thing is I get up in the morning.  I spend a few minutes on my own as I am not the nicest person in the morning and I need a little bit to wake up and remember that I shouldn’t eat the people that talk to me in the morning.

Once I am awake I call the kids down and they have breakfast.  I get Little Kid’s hair brushed, have her brush her teeth, get snow gear on etc, and get her ready for and then onto the bus.  During this time Big Kid is usually goofing off/brushing teeth/etc.

Once that is all taken care of I get all the work for the day out and put it on the kitchen table then I get myself some breakfast and BK starts on his math.  Usually I check to make sure he knows what he is doing and then I go shower while he works on that.  So far that has worked okay for us though sometimes I have to wait because he needs help with the math.

Once I am clean and his math is done he starts on cursive, then copy work, then reading comprehension.  When those are all done usually BK reads our history aloud to me.  I do this because it lets me be sure he read it and more importantly to make sure he is pronouncing the words correctly.  The downside of a kid that started reading super early is that unless they read aloud you can’t be sure they are getting words correct so I use this time and this reading for that.  If there is science or art that day he does those both after.

Then the new thing I implemented was creative writing where I give him a prompt and he has to write a few sentences about whatever it was.  He was having trouble paying attention when he prints and was ending up with capitals where they didn’t belong and g’s way above the line etc so the writing is more to focus on making sure periods and capitals are where they go than anything else though it is also good for him to learn to write with a prompt.

When all that is done (usually takes about 2 or 2.5 hours) BK tends to play outside or inside for awhile.  Doing whatever he thinks sounds like fun that is non-electronic.  Usually it involves a lot of imaginative play.  If there are chores to be done he does those in this time and we do errands in this time too.  Then, by about 11, if all things have gone well I will let him have 30/45 minutes on the computer (usually Minecraft).  Then it is time for lunch.

After lunch he plays for a bit and then it is rest time.  This is both for him to have some downtime/quiet time and so I can get a bit of a break.  He reads or plays quietly in his room while I watch TV or sometimes sneak in a short nap.

When that is over it is time to get LK off the bus and then they play together for the rest of the afternoon until dinner and bed time!  Overall it is pretty easy but it is also simple to modify if needed in case we have an appointment to go to, or group, or an extra activity, or (like last week) LK has a snow day.

So there you have it! Just a basic day around our house!

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