Thursday, February 25, 2010

Happy 6 year liver birthday Skylar

Today will be a day filled with fun and rejoicing as we celebrate Skylar's 6 year liver birthday. Of course stickler that I am we will have a small bit of school, a math lesson and some reading. But we plan on baking cookies and possibly brownies. And together we'll be cooking Skylar's favorite chicken recipe.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A little more tweaking of my 3 year olds workboxes

I have never done the clear shoeboxes on the shoe rack, the true workbox design. But we have used CLE tidi files, then a colored drawer system. And then I really wanted a more compact system.
What I changed over to for my girls is going great (I posted about that with photos). For my 3 year old I switched to use 3 stacking baskets for him with the over sized ziplock bags in. That really didn't work so well so now I'm adjusting a bit more.

He really has no interest in a schedule strip of any kind. Also he dabbles in school with us as the bulk of his school is playing and my reading to him before the other children wake up in the morning. Instead of a schedule strip, I did a wall next to his little work table in our school room. He loves the movie "Cars" so I did a car theme. These each have a velcro coin on them so when he takes one off a work bag he will place it on the car with the number that matches.

Here are his work bags. They have a large colored tag on the front (this is just for visual appeal). I put a velcro coin on that and then the car numbers will go on each bag. 

This is what the milk crate looks like with 10 full bags in them.

The tag from the bag removed. 

It will go on the number that is hanging on the wall.

I am thinking I might trim down the size of the tags on the bags, but not sure yet. I'll see how tomorrow goes. 

We recently received a Roomba

This is a neat little robot that's sole focus in his little robot life is to vacuum your floors.

We've had him for 3 days now and my floors have never been so clean, and that's not from my lack of trying. However it's not easy to vacuum as often with a manual vacuum when you have many other things going on in the house. And I've found that in practice for the arrival of the Roomba, (we started a week before he came) my kids happily do a quick run through the house picking up anything they might have left behind. My husband and I debated a lot. After deciding to take the plunge, we ended up going with the pro version. As I write this, this is their top of the line of their models. The reason being, we wanted something that would handle pet hair and children. The crumbs under the dining room table were of special concern, would it be able to get those after each meal?  I am happy to admit that the performance has been fantastic.
Our little one is crawling and it's great to be able to run this little guy before she wakes in the morning. I was able to find it with a lifetime warranty (which I felt we needed in our home LOL) and also found a coupon for $49 off. So that was a nice bonus as well.
Definitely one thing that has already made our home cleaner, less cluttered and taken one thing of our chore list.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

5 days into our new set up (Sonlight ala Robinson curriculum)

Today was a great day. SJ and I had a nice breakfast, just she and I. Set up our work folders (she likes helping do that) and played a game together, all before the other kids even woke up today.
The weather here is wonderful. Definitely enjoying what mother nature is offering us lately.

I didn't expect it to be such a smooth transition on our new Sonlight ala Robinson, but have been pleasantly surprised.
SR has been flying through her books at a pace I didn't even dream of. We already have been having some great conversations about her readings. Right now she is reading about King Tut.
My Mom suggested something today which I'm thinking might be nice to implement for her. Having SR do a journal every evening about what she did each day. This will be a nice way to end the evening for her.
So I think we might start that tonight.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Going in a new direction

There had been some talk recently on a homeschool forum I used frequent about the Robinson Curriculum.
This curriculum was developed out of such very sad circumstances. Mr. Robinson really did an amazing thing for his children/family after the loss of his wife/their mother.
A bit back I had read over the Robinson site and felt drawn to many of the elements of this curriculum. I had decided at that time to put planning about this on hold for awhile.
This topic came up again and maybe it's some sort of sign that is pulling me in this direction. So last night I began reading again. I was able to find several great sources:
-The book list used in the curriculum.

I was lucky enough last night to be able to speak via email with a Mom who does Sonlight ala Robinson. Her blog is located here. And today to hear from a fellow Mom who is a Robinson user. Her children are ages similar to my two older girls and she shared some of the hows that I was unable to get a clear picture of from the Robinson website itself.
-Such as the time requirements which are listed as:
2 hours math, 1 hour writing, 2 hours reading
From what she explained those are in place for ages 10 and up. But I don't see that I'd use that timeline guide here for us. But I did wonder about it.

-Also she shared that they work through one book at a time, though some parents have their kids read an hour of history, hour of literature or an hour of science, etc.

I had felt originally a bit dejected, as my plan was to use Sonlight but not as designed. I was going to have my older daughter do the Sonlight Core solo, with a meeting with me each week, and journaling what she read about. I received a not so favorable response to that plan when I shared my thoughts and asked for some guidance from some fellow Sonlight users. I do clearly  understand the how and why set up of Sonlight as it is meant to be used. However some of us come across seasons in our lives where we are not in a place where we can devote the amount of time needed to do the reading out loud to the kids. Sonlight offers so many great books and just because I cannot sit and read them does not mean I must toss the baby out with the bath water so to speak.
Sonlight itself does say, make the curriculum fit you and not the other way around, so I am heeding that advice : ).

So I did some planning early this morning (baby had me up at 5 this morning). And I went through our shelves. There are many Sonlight books I have that that I'd like my older daughter to read this year. I went through and did the same for what I'd like my younger daughter to read. She is still covering phonics and working on that so her readers are a bit of a mix of Bob books and other leveled readers.

My plan today is to implement the focus on math in a heavier way as Dr. Robinson does with his own children. However we use Math u see as our main curriculum, two plus two is not five as our supplement and my younger daughter uses Ace as well for practice as needed. Also I do not believe in heavy seatwork for little ones so use of workbooks here is limited at best. So the math will not be 2 hours. He uses Saxon so maybe that takes more time, not too sure.
I do use Queens for Language Arts and plan to stick with that.

--SR has been reading The Beginner's bible to me daily from the Sonlight reader package 2. But lately has more preference for reading quietly. She's doing great so I will not change that. What I will be changing is the amount of reading. My goal is one hour in a quiet place of her choice. After I'll just ask her to share what she'd like verbally (narration) about what she read.
At the end of the week, she usually does a mini book report where she picks a line from a chapter she read and illustrates it. I'm going to change that just a hair and have her pick anything she read from any of the stories over the week (since the reading volume will be higher). And have her detail that in her notebook as best she can. I will not check this for corrections as these are her own thoughts.

-SJ has been reading the same book 3 to 4 times verbally to me daily. I might still keep this aspect as she needs the practice and I need to keep a gauge on how she is doing with reading. She is working through Explode the Code book 1 to help cement anything she may need to firm up and will work up until book 3 or 3.5.
I will increase her reading, and she will do some leveled readers quietly to herself for an hour. I'm going to do the same with the journaling for her as above listed for Skylar.

There are some things from Robinson that I just will not implement. Not because I don't think they do not work, but because as all homeschoolers do, we make things our own.
We will not be cutting out all sugar or Television. I believe we have a great handle on those things already. Also we use and will continue to use some computer learning. Books are great fun and enjoyable but my kids enjoy some of the game learning they do and I see no issue with having that.
I also do not plan to switch to Saxon math. For science it seems we have been Robinson like all along LOL, so that's great as I had no plans to fix what was working well.
We also put education above all else so that is not anything that needs to be changed.

I will be buying some of the Robinson books as my kids work through what we already have, those and a mix of Sonlight I think are the way we will go.
I did find a site that offers some of the Robinson items for those  who would not like to or cannot purchase the CD curriculum set.  They have the vocabulary exercises which I think would be a great resource to have in hand.
For the Sonlight books I'm going to use old Instructors guides for the vocabulary that I need for those books. And the kids now have a kids dictionary on the shelf where their reading books are so they can use it. I am hopeful that Sonlight might come out with a guide even for the younger cores that is written to the student to work in a self directed/meet with parent manner.

Today will be day one of our new system. (still using the workboxes).
So I'm hoping it goes very well.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Why we homeschool

We homeschool for many reasons, but most of it is for family time. There is simply no way any other schooling approach would allow us to have what homeschooing does.

Here are some of our fun moments I came across which I don't think I've posted anywhere else on the blog:

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Some fun school pictures
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Valentine's day 2010

We are doing regular school days with a Valentine craft at the end of each day.
On Monday the girls worked on cards they'd like to give to others.

Tuesday we made Valentine Pencil Toppers that we did from this Family Fun.

Over the rest of the week we'll be making a heart basket from Enchanted learning and a 3D string of hearts for them to hang up. (this is a paid site but very reasonable and very worth it.) You can do a whole school theme on things here which is great fun.

And I think we'll be doing some family stuff this week, like bowling on Thursday and out to lunch on Friday.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Family closet project

I've made some changes in this since my original post so I am correcting that. Today is 2/9/10. Our set up is nothing fancy but workable for me : )

Yesterday the girls and I cleaned their room top to bottom. Something I think that will make life easier for all of us actually is the family closet. I had first seen something like this on TLC while watching the Duggars, a large homeschooling family. At the time I loved their closet but didn't make the connection that it could work for my own family.
We are doing a modified version.
1. Bry's and my clothes will remain in the master walk in closet.
2. Baby's clothing will remain in her dresser, which is in the master bedroom.
3. Decklin, Summer and Skylar will now use the "family closet" system. In a hall closet that I converted yesterday after reading about them on the Raising Olives blog I have linked above. Baby's clothes now also in the family closet.

The girls and I gathered up every piece of clothing they had that was not in their drawers and washed it all. Then we sat together and sorted it into their laundry baskets (which have their names on them). I then went and put them in their designated area in the family closet.

The closet system I put in place consists of:
-4 sets of those rolling Sterilite drawers. I removed the wheel base and top and put them all together (they click and lock and become quite sturdy). I also have a smaller set of Iris drawers that we got a long time ago. I can't find them to link, but they are thinner and fit perfectly next to the larger drawer system. I went to walmart and got two more sets of those as well.
-Each child has 3 large drawers, but the baby, who has two of the large drawers. She wears wool cloth diaper covers so besides a few Pj bottoms he wool pants are kept with the diapers at the changing table.
The drawers are labeled:
-Underwear (and my ds has his socks in here as well).
-The older girls are sharing a sock drawer and also have a shared hanging bag of stockings/pantyhose.
-Baby has one small drawer for sweatshirts, pantyhose and baby legs.

The girls have one of those pop up hamper type toy bins that I put all their bulky sweatshirts in. Though I'm not sure if this will be the way I will keep those. But for now it's fine.

I have a hamper for lights and a hamper for darks (one on the wall and one on the door).

If this works out we will get rid of their dressers. For now I took the ones out of the girls room and will hang onto them in the spare room. I have not removed my son's yet even though his are empty. But we'll see what happens. My luck I'd give them away and then the system would not work and I'd have to get new dressers LOL. I moved the baby's dresser into the school room, just as I had no where else to put it LOL. But since it's the same color as my bedroom set I'll move it back and move the extra black dresser I have in there for her blankets and put that in the school room instead (since our bookcases are mostly black). But we'll see how industrious I feel LOL.

So that was my new project.  It's up and running. I've had luck already as when I wash the clothes I fold it and walk right to the closet and place each child's items in the right place. Usually I'd let the clothes mountain build up LOL. So that is a huge accomplishment for me : )

Here are some pictures:

Here are the towers of drawers.  Everyone has labels on the drawers that are color coded as well as having their names on them. I laminated them and also attached them to the drawers with velcro dots. I figured that'd make it easy if I have to move drawers around, say one child ends up with more and needs an extra drawer. Then I can just move the label verses having to totally redo it. 

This is the hamper for dark clothing. And hanging in the background is the bag of pantyhose/stockings for the older girls. 

This is our lights hamper. And that small bag on the floor I hang in the bathroom and the girls can deposit their clothes before they hop in the shower into there. Then I take it to the closet and sort it into the proper hamper. 

I have a step stool in the closet so I can reach the top drawers, figure that combined with my sketchers shape ups might give me a little exercise while putting laundry away. Every little bit helps : ) 

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Some more pictures of workbox redesign and school room

This is a set of report covers that have 3 ring set up with prongs to go through the paper work. I am partial to these verses the bulk of 3 ring binders. So my girls each have a few things in theirs (one folder each item):
-Math-u-see system review
-Two Plus Two is Not Five worksheet
-Reading Log (Skylar only)
-Happy Scribe copywork
-Summer had a folder to keep track of what she does on
-Skylar has one to keep track of what lesson she does on

This is how the folders (pink for Skylar) look in the file jackets in our file boxes. 

Here is Summer's Starfall folder. 

Today I took the file jackets and cut them in half and attached them to each of the girls desks. Then put velcro coins (one on left side one on right side) for the pockets that hold the numbers (one pocket for the numbers that the take off the number strip when done) and (the other that they take off the work folder when done with it). I had these pockets stuck on the front of the file boxes but felt this might be easier for them to do while sitting at their desks. So this way they would be able to just do it from their seat instead of having to bend to the file box at the base of their desk. 

This was taken before my husband hid all the cords of the computer but you can get the idea. 

My little guy game in to investigate the new set up.

Adding some new things today

Yesterday my brother-in-law, a true computer expert by trade, was gracious enough to help get a computer we had inherited, online via our wireless network. I had tried to add this computer myself but it needed some tricky things done to it, of which I of course had no idea, so better to have an expert LOL

We put it in our school room (oh we are so high tech now LOL). So the kids can use that instead of using my Macbook. (when they did typing lessons on the laptop they would always hit the center button which would throw them off).

Today Skylar did some MUS online drill (which she loved) and did some typing (via a program we have). She said that computer learning was so much fun.
So after that I opted to do some workbox planner page re-design using the PC for more of our schooling. She will be using a free online spelling program three times a week called, looks like fun. So we'll see how that goes.

Summer is doing Starfall instead of Spelling time and also going to be using the MUS online drill.

I'll add photos once we are all tidied up : )

And I'll post the new workbox schedule for any who want to take a look.