Monthly Archives: May 2008

Headed for KY

I just wanted to let my faithful readers (all 5 of you 🙂 ) know that we will be out of town for the next week or so, and my blog will probably not be updated until we get back on June 2.  We are going to Kentucky… Woo-Hoo!

Have a great week!

A new start in math

For the past few months, we have been using Horizons Math for Kindergarten. As of last week, we officially finished the first half of the program, 80 lessons. There are some things I really liked about it. The fact that it is a spiral curriculum, for one. Each day, a new topic was presented and old ones were reviewed (versus a mastery curriculum, where you stay on one topic until you have it mastered). It was colorful and seemed to have good reviews.

But there were two things that I really did not like about the program: It seemed to move really quick, and it was boring. I don’t know if some of that has to do with Madison’s age, but on some topics there was so much review and on some, it seemed like we were moving on before she understood what we had done the day before. And while I am sure there is some way I could have tried to slow it down, I just didn’t feel like it was working out for either of us.

As far as the boring part, it felt like all we were doing was worksheets. And truthfully, Madison didn’t complain about doing worksheets – she loves to “do math.” I just really want school to be fun for us (as much as possible). And doing Horizons felt like too much writing and not enough understanding, so I decided to look for something new.

That was probably a month ago, and doing that time I have tried to do a much better job researching math curricula than I did the first time. The one that really stood out for me was Right Start. Again, I have heard so many positive things about the program, and the main negative comment was that it is very teacher intensive. I feel like I can handle that – I only have one kid right now, so that’s ok with me. One of my favorite things about the program is that it tries to teach understanding, not memorization. And I also like that there are so many learning games, especially at this age, and not so many worksheets.

So, after reading about RS quite a lot and asking other preschool moms why they love it, I decided to order it. I waited to buy it from our homeschool convention because I really wanted to see it in person and read the manuals and see the manipulatives. I am glad I waited, because I feel like waiting really gave me confidence in my decision.

Our starter kit came in the mail on Friday as we were on our way to Kansas for the weekend. Of course, I took it with me and read everything and started cutting out all of the things we would need for the first few (twenty) lessons. I will say that I agree about the teacher intensiveness. There are a lot of materials to prepare, but I only have to do it once! And when we do have more kids (hopefully soon…), it will already be waiting for me!

We officially started the lessons today and Madison loved them. She was more excited about math today than she has been in weeks. She asked to do an extra lesson, and I let her, although that is not a habit I want to get into. I am trying to take it slower this time and make sure the information sinks in. Since we are starting in Level A, I definitely feel like we have taken a big step backwards from where we were with Horizons, but I think it is a good place for us right now. We aren’t really in a hurry, you know?

I was asked why I chose Right Start over Math-U-See and that is hard for me to answer. I did look at MUS at our homeschool convention, but it just didn’t feel right. There are some similar aspects between the two programs, but RS feels right for us right now (although I reserve the right to change my mind later), and I will keep you updated on how it works out for us.

I’m going private on Flickr

Starting today, if you want to view our pictures on Flickr, you will have to set up an account and become one of my contacts.  To do that, go to Flickr and click on “Create your account.”  If you have a yahoo account, it will ask you to sign in, and then it will ask if you want a new account or if you want to link your new yahoo account to an existing Flickr account.  Select a new account, and that’s it.  If you don’t have a Yahoo account, you will have to create on before you can create a Flickr account.

After you are signed into Flickr, scroll down to the bottom and click on “Your photostream.”  On the next page, click on the little arrow next to the contacts button and then do a people search for mrsamy – that is my user name and I should be the only one who comes up.  Hover over the picture and a little arrow will come up; from that drop down menu, select “Add mrsamy as a contact?”  Select whether you are a friend or family, and then you should be able to see my pictures again 🙂

If you have any problems with that, please let me know 🙂

And while I am giving instructions, I just wanted to add a plug for subscribing to my blog…

If you are interested in receiving an email anytime the new blog is updated, you can subscribe to the feed.  Not sure how to do that?  Just click on this link (or the one in the first column to the right), enter your email address and the verification code listed there.  They will send you a confirmation email.  Follow the instructions and voila!  You will get an email every time I update (with pictures and everything).  Technology is amazing, isn’t it?

There is also a link over there for subscribing in a blog reader, if that is more your cup of tea.  I use BlogLines and have been very pleased with it.

Our Field Trips, OKC Style (Part 1)

Since we have been in Oklahoma City, I have been trying to cram all of the really neat and fun things around here into our schedule. Initially, we were just randomly going to different places, but since my discovery of Homeschool Share and all of the wonderful units housed there, we have started studying about a topic, then visiting the appropriate museum. So far, of the places we have visited around here, my favorite has been the science museum.

Originally the Onmiplex, the Science Museum Oklahoma changed it’s name a few months ago, but to my knowledge it is still the same on the inside. I was really impressed by the size of the museum. We went specifically for the Human Body traveling exhibit, but did spend some time looking around other areas too.

The human body was really cool. You couldn’t take pictures inside, hence the reason I have none, but they were real human bodies dissected in different ways to highlight the body systems. It was the perfect end to out unit study about the human body. It was a little pricey, but definitely worth it!

One really cool thing (that I was not expecting) was the exhibit about the AWACS. They had a section set up like the inside of the plane and a video about all the training. There were also some models of the plane set up.

Among other fun things? A giant slide,

water stuff,

and face painting.

It a funny story about the face painting actually. I did Madison and she did me. So you can guess what mine looked like – a big blob. After we left the museum, I completely forgot that I had it on and continued to do the rest of my errands – went out to lunch then went to the base, where the gate guard asked me “Got your war paint on today?” It was pretty funny, after I got over my embarassment.

And last but not least, my favorite part of any museum: the gift shop. It was a pretty amazing shop, with lots of fun and educational souviener. So what did my wonderful daughter choose to remember our trip (about the human body)? A butterfly glittery snow globe ring. Oh well. It was only $2, right? I also made her get a human body pencil (plus we bought a lollipop with a real bug in it – how cool is that??).

There was also a space exhibit and a planetarium that we skipped completely since we are planning to do a space unit in a few weeks and that will give us an excuse to go back 🙂

If you want to see the rest of the pictures from our trip, visit our album at Flickr.

This post is part of a meme at Heart of the Matter online. If you want to read about more field trips, visit them!

How we use our memory CD

Truthfully, I think you are going to be surprised and maybe a little disappointed. It’s really not some big fancy thing or magic formula.  I got the idea from Jessica over at Trivium Academy, although we use it a little differently than they did (which is to be expected, sing Madison is doing PreK and her daughter is doing 2nd). Our memory CD is a combination of songs, poems, and scriptures – mostly songs. It is not all “facts” that I want Madison to memorize; I also included some songs she likes just for fun. I want her to want to listen to it 🙂

How I made it: First, I picked out things that we are working on, like memorizing the books of the Bible, the sons of Jacob, counting by 10’s, some of our memory verses, state capitols (that’s really just for fun, since one of our family goals is to visit all the state capitols), alphabet sounds, the colors of the rainbow, etc. Then I tried to find songs for them. If I couldn’t find one on a CD or online, I made one up and recorded it using Audacity. Audacity is very easy to use and you can download it for free.

After Madison and I recorded the songs (I let her sing with me if she wanted) and the poems/verses, I imported them into iTunes with the other things I had found. All of that was less than 30 minutes play time, so I added in songs that we just like (although a lot of them came from her “learning” CD’s) to make the total playing time 30 minutes. Then I burned a CD and it was ready to use.

How we use it: Truthfully, we use it just for fun. Madison likes to listen to it, so whenever she wants to listen, I let her. When she has rest time, which has not been very often lately, I put the CD on and she listens to it. She has to stay in her room until it is over and then she can come out. It’s like a timer, and it gives me 30 minutes to do laundry and clean the bathrooms. But, during “rest time”, she also plays with her toys in her room. She rarely lays down and never goes to sleep…

She also listens to the CD at bedtime, sometimes. I let her choose what she wants to hear when she is falling asleep. Sometimes she chooses her memory CD, sometimes she listens to books on tape, sometimes other CD’s that are hers that she likes, sometimes Dave Matthews Band (no really, she likes the Dave Matthews Band…). I would say she chooses her memory CD once or twice a week, and she listens to it during rest time probably two or three times a week.

BUT… I really do think it works! When we started counting by 10’s in math, she had been listening to the memory CD for about 3 weeks, and within 3 days of introducing that topic, she already had it memorized. The same thing happened with counting by 5’s. It also seems to work with Bible verses we have done. I am interested to see whether it will work with poetry. The poems on the CD are the ones I plan to have here memorize when we start poetry memorization, but we haven’t really gotten to that yet.

I plan to make a new CD each quarter (although so far I have only made one and we have used it for about 3 months… so I guess it would be time for a new one). I want the CD to be relatively short and include things that are relevant to what we are studying. For example, Madison is really great at counting by 10’s, so I can take that song off and add a new one for counting by 2’s. Also, I would like to update the scriptures to ones that are relevant to what we are studying.

As far as what I put on the CD, I have several resources that I really enjoy. One is “Sounds Like Fun,” which I bought from Discovery Toys. I had that CD cassette tape when I was little, and after I bought it for Madison, I realized that I still knew all the songs, so I guess I listened to it a lot. Madison really likes it and it is what she listened to most nights before we started the memory CD. Another is “Children’s Songs,” by the Bible Study Guide for All Ages. They have songs for every Bible thing I want Madison to memorize, except for the books of the Bible (I downloaded the Old Testament Books online and the New Testament Books I sang). And I just purchased a skip counting CD from Math-U-See which has not been included on the memory CD yet, but I plan to add it when I finally update. Madison has listened to that some nights as well and really enjoys it.

(As a side note, we also really enjoy music by Joe Scruggs. If you have never listened to him, I really recommend you check it out!)

Here is a screen shot of our memory CD playlist. You should be able to click on it and make it large enough to read.

So, in a nutshell, that is everything I can think of to share about our memory CD – and probably more that you wanted to know! If you have more creative ways to use your memory CD, please share them with me!

Interested in Headsprout?

I was able to purchase Headsprout for 50% off during a special offer a few months and I have not regretted it at all. Madison is at Lesson 66 and she is really turning into a great reader – I would highly recommend it to anyone teaching their children to read.

If you are interested, for a limited time, you can visit the Homeschool Buyers Co-op for a chance to purchase it at up to 50% off! If you have been thinking about the program, now is the time to try it out! If you have any questions about it, please ask and I will share my experience with you 🙂

I am not an affiliate of Headsprout or the Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op – I just think Headsprout is a great program and wanted to share the opportunity to purchase it for a great price!

Week 18 and 19 Report

I really thought I was going to do a better job with these weekly reports!  I’d say I’m turning a new leaf over now, but I can’t promise that, so you’ll just have to take what you can get…

Week 18

On our way home from New Mexico, we were scheduled for a 40 minute layover in Dallas.  Well, coincidentally, my brother was on his way to Basic Training in San Antonio (he just joined the Air Force), and he also had a layover in Dallas.  I was going to miss him, since my layover was so short, so I talked to the flight attendants, and they not only rescheduled me for a later flight, but also told me what flight my brother was coming in on.  Wow!  I had read some negative reviews about American, but I had an extremely positive experience with them.  So, that being said, we ended up in the airport for 6 hours.  Good thing I brought extra school work!

I scheduled a unit study on planes, which worked out really well with the above.  We read a lot of books and made paper airplanes.  We also did several reading lessons with Headsprout, finished the letter o in ETC, did math, bible, and a little art.

Week 19

Another normal week.  We didn’t have a unit study this week because I just didn’t make it to the library (imagine a sheepish look on my face right now).  I had planned to do cowboys, but we are doing that this week instead.  It worked out well actually because my little sister who is still in high school had a choir concert on Thursday, so we drove up to Wichita for it (about two hours), then drove back home on Friday.  We also got back on the Green Hour Challenges, which I plan to post more about later, and finished ETC Book 1.

This week, we will finish up the first half of Horizons Math, and hopefully we will get the Right Start program I ordered from the homeschool convention so we can switch over to that…

Have a good week!

A little about me:

Two of my blogosphere friends, Lisa and Brittney, tagged me with this meme…

Here are the rules:

1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, the player tags 5 people and posts their name, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

What was I doing 10 years ago:
I was finishing my freshman year in high school – I had just moved to Kansas and was having a hard time adjusting to life in a very small town after coming from Houston, TX. I had just met my husband but I didn’t know it then! We started dating that August.

Five Snacks I enjoy:
1. Garden Salsa Sun Chips
2. Peanut Butter and Snickers Ice Cream
3. Cheese and Crackers
4. Grilled Peanut Butter with Chocolate Chips
5. Sweet Potato Rolls

In the real world:
1. I love to read, but refuse to read in airports (or any public places) because I zone out so much I am afraid I’ll lose my daughter.
2. I love school! No really, I love school… I long to go back and get my PhD, but probably won’t be able to do that until my husband is out of the military because we move so much…  sigh…
3. I love being a mom, but sometimes I miss having a job.
4. I am extremely shy.  You know the quote “It’s better to keep quiet and appear a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt?”  That’s me.  Afraid to speak. It is something I am still trying to change, and it’s one reason I like the blogging world. I have time to think about what I am going to say, and to edit it 🙂  That’s a luxury you don’t get when you speak.
5. I’m getting ready to move to Japan – and I am super excited about the traveling we hope to do while we are over there!

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
1. Be debt free – a goal I am already working toward and have almost accomplished 🙂
2. Travel, Travel, and Travel some more!
3. Set aside money for Madison and any of our future children
4. Donate to the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research
5. Set up a scholarship fund at my alma mater

Five jobs that I have had:
1. Reference Librarian
2. Elementary School Teacher
3. Curriculum Development Intern for PBS
4. Graduate Assistant / Lab Supervisor
5. Bank Teller

Three of my habits:
1. Checking my email as soon as I roll out of bed
2. Grey’s Anatomy (please don’t judge me!)
3. Starbucks Vanilla Frappachino (and can I just say one more time how glad I am that there are Starbucks in Japan!!)

Five places I have lived:
1. Panama City, Florida
2. Knob Noster, Missouri
3. Houston, Texas
4. Kent, Washington
5. Lancaster, California… and many more…

What do you want others to get from your blog:

My main goal was to keep in touch with my family and friends after we go to Japan.  I have started several other blogs before for that same purpose (keeping in touch) and I have never followed through with it, so this time, I started the blog and didn’t tell anyone about it.  In fact, I still haven’t told some people because I wanted to make sure I would update.  I guess I can probably tell people now.

After I started blogging and discovered the community of homeschool bloggers, I hope that some of the homeschool moms who read my blog find some useful information here, as I have with so many others.

And I am going to tag…