Tag Archives: explode the code

Weekly report for the last 4 weeks!

I guess that would be called a monthly report.

I am a bad blogger.  I really wanted to stay on top of weekly reports – you know, keep my family informed, hold my self accountable, blah, blah, blah…  I don’t know if I am ever going to get around to doing that for the past few weeks.  Acutally, yeah, I feel guilted into to it.  That is the main reason I started this blog.  I will do it now.

Bible is moving steadily along.  We are on Lesson 50ish and I think we will be able to finish Unit 1 before we move.  I am happy about that.  We added Hymn Study since Madison keeps asking me to “tell me all the words” at church when we are singing, so I would really like her to know the words because I like to sing 🙂  Scripture memory is also going good, although we have not made a lot of progress because we are out of town more than we are home (and it looks like that trend will continue for April and May and probably June.  Ok, probably until we leave for Japan…)

We are making decent progress with reading.  Madison is more than halfway through Headsprout, but still just reads ok.  I think I had this great expectation that she would be reading easily and fluently when she finished the program, and now I am starting to see that that was not realistic.  One problem I notice is she is not carrying what she learns in the program anywhere else.  She will read the Headsprout books or other readers I get from the library, but she is not motivated to sound out words anywhere else.  She stills asks me what stuff says, even when I know she has the tools to figure it out herself.  My solution to that is more practice reading. Her first books are now really easy for her, which I guess I should take as a sign to chill out and it will come to her, but that is not really in my nature.

We finished ETC books A, B, and C about a month ago and are now working on ETC Book 1.  Madison does not love it, but is so good at it!  She is now reading and spelling almost all CVC words – she is really great with spelling (so far).  The only words she has trouble with are words with short e, and that is because we haven’t really learned to use that sound yet.  In Headsprout, they teach the long ee sound first, and I didn’t want to confuse her (until I had too).

We are moving along in math too, but I am afraid she is not retaining as much information as I would like her too.  Sometime in the next few weeks, I am planning to order Singapore 1A/B and add some of those pages in as 1) reinforcement and 2) a way to slow us down a little.  I really don’t want to move too far ahead of grade level in math, which is something I didn’t consider when I started schooling her.  But, I don’t want to stop and have her forget what we have already learned, so we will slow down. (Also, anyone using Horizons math – we are in the 50’s and are already working on adding with 20’s.  At some point, it will come back to adding one digit numbers and doing drill?  Or is that something you add in yourself later?)

Of course, with all our traveling, you know we haven’t been doing science or art or violin or Japanese.  I am hoping to get back on with that this week (we did good yesterday).  We are going to start the Green Hour Challenge tomorrow, so we will be way behind, but that’s ok with me.  It looks like a great, fun science activity and I am looking forward to it.  Although I am still not sure where we will walk to since we live in downtown OKC.  Also, we have been sorta doing Sketch Tuesday.  Last week, Madison’s something blue was a car.  She draws pretty good cars.

side note: as I am sitting here blogging, which I should not be doing right now – I should be getting Madison ready for the day, taking my dog for a walk, getting dressed,doing the dishes I left in the sink last night so I could read, I could go on and on – Madison is standing here talking to me, and it occurs to me that she is so big!  Long legs and a skinny body, she looks just like her dad.  Sometimes I wish she would stay this age forever – and sometimes I can’t wait for her to grow up 🙂

So that is pretty much our month.  Among other activites we did, we went to Virginia (I posted about that earlier), my brother got married, we went to Storytime when we were in town, went to the Museum of World Treasures in Wichita (which, by the way, that place is pretty awesome, especially for homeschoolers.  If we were going to be in OKC semi permanently – and by that, I mean for more than 6 months – I would buy a season pass.  There is so much cool stuff there about everything.  Although it is organized a little… well, lets just say it is not very well organized.  I’m sure we did other stuff, I just can’t think of it right now.

And I have so much more to blog about! I have been thinking about stuff I want to write down for the past month, and I never seem to be near a computer.  Now that the weight of this weekly report is off my shoulders, maybe I can get back to doing some regular blogging.

Week Ten Report

Wow.  We have had a week.  And let me just say I am so glad it is finally over. I have this concept that school should be fun, especially at this age, and between my grumpy moods and Madison’s grumpy moods, we did not really have fun this week…

So, I have come to the conclusion that I will need to build week breaks into our schedule – and this week should have been one of them.  Somehow we did manage to finish all our school except for one math lesson (which is pretty impressive), but it was a loooooooooooooooong week for both of us.

I will start with the positive –

Madison finished Explode the Code Book C this week!  After finishing it yesterday, I gave her the consonant pretest from ETC Book 1, which she, of course, passed with flying colors and we are ready to start with Lesson 1 next week.

We are 6 lessons away from finishing the first half of Headsprout, and Madison is doing so well with her reading!  I checked out some easy reader phonics books from the library last week and had Madison read them to me. For the most part, she has been able to read them, with a little help from me on the sounds she does not know.   I am really excited to see where she will be in the next two weeks.

Math was regular, except that we just ran out of time to do it one day.

Bible is great, although it seems like she is starting to retain less…  not sure how to remedy that, but I will be re-reading my teachers guide this week.  Hopefully I can add in some reinforcement activities.  We also started with the Scripture Memory System on Wednesday, which I love, love, love!  I don’t even think I can say how excited I am to get started on this, not just for Madison, but for me also.  I made up a list of our first 100 verses to memorize (and believe me, this took a LOT more time than I expected) and I am extremely optimistic about it.

Science, once again, we skipped.  I am toying with the idea of having a “Science Week” to make up for the fact that we basically don’t do it.  We can check out science books from the library, do lots of experiments, and culminate with a trip to the Science Museum.  The more I think about it, the more excited about this I am…

And that was about it for our week…

Except for today, and if we had a bad week, today was the worst of all the days.  Madison woke up late, 20 minutes before story time.  I won’t tell you what time story time is, because I was still sleeping too and I don’t think I want to broadcast how late I slept in…  Anyway, we rush around and make it to story time just a few minutes late.  Then Madison (who has been telling me all morning that her stomach hurts and I have been telling her to be tough) throws up in the middle of story time.  And before we make it out of the library, she says she has to go to the bathroom and has an accident in her pants, which I attempt to clean before taking her out to the car, where she throws up again before we get home.  And that was not the end of it.  Needless to say, it was a long day.  I am on my 3rd pair of jeans.  We were planning to head back to Kansas again for the weekend, but Madison and I stayed home and let Dad make the trip by himself.  Bummer.  And to top it all off, I am starting to feel sick – but I keep telling myself to be tough…

Have a great week – I know mine is going to be better!

Week Eight and Nine Reports

I had to look at my calendar to see what we have actually done during the last two weeks – I can barely remember, and since a large part of the purpose of the blog is to chronicle our homeschool journey, I am going to have to try to stay on top of this a little more.

We had two good weeks, and it feels like we have made so much progress not only in homeschooling, but also in life.  It is like a switch in Madison’s brain has turned on and it is amazing – she has started trying new food and taking her medicine without a fight (both of which were HUGE battles in the past), and she has made huge progress with her reading – thank you Headsprout 🙂

So our last two weeks in review:

Language Arts/Reading –

I will start with this first because I am so thrilled with how well she is doing.  We are on Lesson 28 of 80 of Headsprout, and so far, I am LOVING IT!!  The program is so patient with her, reviewing new sounds until they are mastered, and she enjoys it.  In fact, she enjoys it so much, we are two weeks ahead of my schedule.  I had originally planned on four lessons a week, since we homeschool Monday through Thursday, but she asks to do extra in the afternoon during her free time 🙂  Of course, I don’t say no.  The greatest part is from about lesson 20 on, almost every lesson comes with a printable reader, so she is getting lots of “real” practice away from the computer screen.  This week, I picked up some phonics based readers from my library, and we are reading those together.  I know which sounds she has learned through Headsprout, so if she can sound out the word, I let her, and she is doing great.  If she doesn’t know the sound, I read it.  We also starting reading the Bob books again.  She read three new ones this week, sounding out the words almost completely on her own.  And… she has been asking to keep her lamp on later so that she can read in her room.  I am so happy 🙂  While I was hesitant about using a computer based program to teach Madison to read, I am so thrilled that we decided to take the chance.  For the $100 we spent, we are getting such a great return on our investment!  And of course, I will keep you updated as we get closer to completing the program, but as of right now, I recommend it to everyone, especially if you are on the fence about a reading program.

As far as other language arts goes, we have pretty much discarded the “Letter of the Week” program.  We are still watching the videos for each letter as we get to them in our Explode the Code book, and I let her choose a recipe each week for us to fix together.  But we are not working on the quilt (although I still have plans to finish it), and we are going through a letter pretty much every day.  At this point, she knows all the individual letter sounds, so we are just going through the motions with ETC Book C, boosting her confidence.  We only have 5 letters left, so it looks like we will be starting Book 1 soon, which I am excited about because I think it will be a nice change of pace, and maybe challenge her a little more.

Bible –

We are trucking along with this, right on schedule.  This is still the first thing we do each morning, but I think we are going to add in a few things over the next few weeks.  First, I am hoping to introduce a scripture memorization system for the whole family, Charlotte Mason style (more on this later), and second, we are starting to have family Bible time after dinner.  Every night, we plan to have Dad read from the Bible right after dinner.  I think this is really important because right now I am the one teaching Bible, and I think Madison needs to see Dad do it too, as the head of the family.

Math –

Right on schedule with this also, although I am planning to make a few changes in the next few weeks.  I finished reading “The Three R’s,” by Ruth Beechick yesterday, and a lot of what she suggested I agreed with.  So we are changing two things in math as well.  First, I am planning to include a lot more work with manipulatives.  We already do quite a bit of this, but I think we could do more.  Second, I am going to read the teacher’s manual each week before our lessons.  I have kind of gotten into a habit just doing the workbook page together, and I would like to move to having a “teaching time,” followed by her doing the workbook page a little bit more independently.   On a happy note, her counting is much improved, and she can count to 100 by 10’s.  Yeah 🙂

Other-

For right now, these subjects are our core, and everything else I consider electives.  That being said, we haven’t really done any electives in the last two weeks – we skipped Science and Violin completely, the only Art we have had is at her art center on her own.  For Japanese, we have continued to read books about the culture, but haven’t started on vocabulary.

Hopefully we will get back on track with that in the next few weeks, but I think that is unlikely given the amount of traveling we are hoping to do before leaving for Japan.  We have plans to visit my grandparents in Virginia (we have been reading books about Williamsburg and Jamestown too), my grandparents in New Mexico, our friends from Missouri, my brother’s wedding in Kansas, my other brother’s military graduation in San Antonio, as well as bi-weekly weekend trips to see our parents.  (I’m not even sure why we have an apartment 🙂 )

We did have a few field trips, once to the zoo with a homeschool family from church, and to see the ballet “Zorro!”  And despite all that we did not manage to finish, I feel really good about where we are at.  Madison is learning, and I think she is learning to love learning.  And that is what matters, right?

Week Seven Report

Once again, another late report… I did good for a few weeks…

We had a really excellent week. I got quite a bit of planning accomplished. I think I have pretty much mapped out our 12 year plan, and I have made some definite decisions about Kindergarten.

We are going to go with Five in a Row for Reading/Science/Social Studies for K. After reviewing the program, I am really optimistic about this. One thing that has been a problem for me with science this year is that it is not planned out in a logical order for me. I have been picking experiments out of the Mudpies to Magnets book, but it is one of the first things that gets shoved to the side, mostly because there is no long term schedule or goal right now. Another perk for FIAR is the social studies – because this is built into the program, I feel comfortable doing this for a year and starting with Tapestry of Grace the following year. I like the “story discs” also – you order them and place them on a map where the story takes place, so it’s like geography is built in as well. And, most importantly, I love the relaxing, fun, cozy approach, tied together with great books. I am really looking forward to Kindergarten. If you are interested in seeing the rest of our kindergarten curriculum, check it out here.

As far as actual school this week, Madison is blowing me away. It is like something has clicked in her head and now she is moving at lightening speed. She keeps asking for more work and I don’t have any more to give her.

Language Arts:

Our letter of the week was supposed to be P, but Madison was working on her ETC book one night while I was fixing dinner and when I turned around, she had worked ahead to the next lesson; she ended up doing S, N, and part of J as well. We made Nibble Sticks for our recipe and I am just going to continue to let her work at what ever speed she wants (as long as we do one letter a week). We will just watch the United Streaming videos as we get to the letters, and she will have to choose one recipe each week.

Headsprout is also great – she can read three of their books now, and asked to do extra lessons last week. I think she is starting to be a lot more comfortable with her reading, especially the more she reads the books they provide.

Math:

Doing great here as well – we changed to doing one lesson a day, four days a week (we were doing 2 lessons, 2 days a week). We started counting by tens and she has really done well with that, and she can count to thirty correctly now – I want to attribute that to our memory CD.

In other areas, she has memorized her books of the New Testament to Colossians, we actually did do a science experiment this week (tornado in a jar which was not very successful) and we did some Japanese culture study. I got my First Thousand Words in Japanese book in the mail, so I am hoping to start with some vocabulary this week. Another thing we did this past week is implement a schedule – which works really great when we follow it! I will post a copy of it later this week 🙂

And two other non-school-related-but-still-exciting events:

First, Madison had her first sleepover this week. On Wednesday, we went to the mall with some friends, and then on Friday, her friend came over and stayed the night. They had pizza and a movie and made crowns on Friday night,and on Saturday morning we went to the National Cowboy Museum for a puppet/magic show. Madison and her friend got to help with a magic trick, which was pretty neat.

And second, we got a new camera today! So this will hopefully be the last picture-less weekly report 🙂

Have a great week!

Week Six Report

We had a pretty good week 🙂 A lot of things happened this week that I am really happy about, and a few that I am disappointed about.

Unfortunately, there won’t be any pictures this week 😦 Our camera is still broken, so until we make a decision to get it fixed or replace it, I guess I am going to be photoless. We do have another camera that works, but the USB cord for it is extremely tempermental, so we may just replace the cord for that and do without a new camera.

But some good things:

We finished ETC Book A! Our letter for the week was “R” and the recipe was Raisin Apple Muffins. We don’t actually like raisins, so we made the muffins sans raisins and called them Really Good Muffins – and they were really good! I also found out this week that there is a version of ETC online and decided to look into that for the future.

I made a memory cd for Madison. This was not something I originally planned to do, or something that I had even thought of until this week when I read about some other homeschooling families had used this successfully. We have been working on memorizing books of the Bible, days of creation, the alphabet, counting, etc. so I made up a CD with these things (plus some more that we are not working on yet but will be sometime soon) and have been playing it for Madison during her rest time and at bedtime. It seems like it might be working – yesterday she could remember two more books of the bible, so that is a start at least 🙂

We also started using Headsprout this week. If you have been reading this blog, you know that I have really been struggling with how to teach Madison how to read. She claims she wants to learn, but generally complains whenever I try to work with her. For the last couple weeks, she has been spending a lot of time on Starfall, and I remembered hearing about Headsprout before but not being interested because Madison had not mastered using a mouse. So I looked into the program and found three sample lessons online. Madison sat and did them all right in a row (they were about 20 minutes each) and then asked to do more. She said she liked them, so DH and I bought a subscription (which, thankfully, was 1/2 price till February 1) and so far it is working great. She already read one of their “readers” this week, and still likes to do it, so I am extremely optimistic. I have also told her that once she can read, she can stay up a little longer at night and read in bed, so this week, she asked if she could do that and stayed up reading the Bob books she had already learned how to read. That also made me extremely happy, and I finally feel like we are making progress here.

Math and Bible are both still going great… nothing new to report 🙂

Planning wise, I mapped out the rest of preschool work that I want to do with Madison. What I am calling “preschool” is about 33 weeks of work, so without any breaks, that would be finishing the end of July. Completely unrealistic. But, since I have no idea when we are moving, how long we will be homeless, etc, I am just going with it. On one hand, I am going to try to be flexible, and on the other hand, I am going to try to take our school where ever we go – Nana’s, the airport, hotels, etc.

On the disappointing side:

Of course, there is the broken camera…

We didn’t do any science or violin lessons this week… or last week… I just didn’t feel like it. I think this is not a good indicator of the future.

I also started planning out our future plans for homeschooling – a long term K-12 plan, and a more definite Kindergarten plan. I felt rather confident in our K plan at 3 am when I finished the outline, but today I am not so sure. I feel like I need to figure out where I am going to end up before I can start making other plans, and I am terrified that I am going to screw it up somehow. I am waffling between doing Five in a Row for Kindergarten and making up my own similar program. I also considered starting Tapestry of Grace next year at a very slow pace and spending 2 years on year 1, but I just don’t know. I feel like I need to pick a program and stick with it. AHHHHH… I think I am just going to step away for a few days (or longer), pray about it, and then come back with what will hopefully be a clearer mind.

So that was our week. Everything else was just normal…

Week Four Report

Wow, every week I am getting later and later with these things… My new goal is going to be to post them on Friday afternoon. Hopefully I will be able to follow through with that. I am halfway through Week 5 now, and I can barely remember what we did last week 🙂

We have not been having the greatest weeks – life keeps getting in the way of school, even though we have still been able to accomplish everything I wanted to. This past week we had to use Friday as a catchup day since Madison was sick most of the week (and she is still sick this week – we made a trip to the emergency room last night and found out she has an ear infection).

So, last week, for bible we did great. We normally do one lesson per day but ended up doing a few extra this week. On Tuesday we finished with Joesph and Madison said “Can we please do one more today? I need to know what happens!!” We also did one extra on Friday because our routine is to do bible first thing every morning, and since we did catchup school on Friday, Madison said “Aren’t we going to do bible first,” and we had to do it.

For reading, things are going OK. She is reading the Bob Books we have been working on with quite a bit of fluency now, but I still don’t think she is”reading.” I think she is memorizing. We are starting some new books this week, so we’ll see how those go. I feel totally lost here, which is not how I expected to feel.

We also read several library books (one of these days I am going to update the preschool reading log), including “The Moon is Made of Milk.” It has a recipe in the back for Moon Cookies, so we made those which was fun.

In ETC, we did the letter K. We did finish the workbook pages, but we did not get around to making the recipe for the week. I think we will end up making it sometime in the next few weeks when we just have extra time. On the plus side, we are planning to make an alphabet quilt and since we went back to my mom’s this weekend, I was finally able to get all the pieces cut out. Hopefully we will get a chance to start on that today and post pictures in our next weekly report.

For math, we just continued in Horizons K. She is really liking it, and doing well. I have heard some mixed opinions about the book as far as retention at the end of the year, but I am hopeful that it will work for Madison. She likes it. I also think that next week, we are going to start doing it everyday rather than twice a week since we are moving out of review mode and into material she is not familiar with.

We started back up doing violin lessons this week, which are going well. We are still just familiarizing ourselves with parts of the violin, etc, but Madison is really enjoying it.

It was my intention to start Japanese this week with Rosetta Stone, but we I went to set it up, I found that my DH’s work log in had expired!!! Now I am not sure what to do. When we had access to Rosetta Stone for free, it was a no brainer, but if anyone has suggestions about a Japanese program for 4 year olds, I would love to hear it. I am going to research this for the next few weeks and then make a decision.

Finally, art. My original plan was to use the book Scribble Art to present a new concept every week (basic stuff like using scissors, making a collage, using oil pastels, etc.) but that has pretty much not happened. At all. However, Madison does have an art center that she plays in for hours everyday, so I think my new plan for the time being is just to continue to add in new materials over there every once in a while and let her play. She loves to do art, and for right now, that is enough for me. We do live across the street from an art museum right now though, so I am planning to take her over there before we head to Japan.

Other: We went to the zoo on Monday, which was nice. We only stayed for a few hours because Madison got extremely tired, which I now recognize as the beginning of her being sick, but we had a really good time. Since the zoo here is free on Monday’s in Jan, we are planning to go back in a couple weeks with some friends. We missed storytime on Friday because Madison was sick 😦

We also went back to Kansas this weekend to visit my grandparents who were visiting from New Mexico and we had a great time there. I realized when I was looking for pictures for my weekly report that I did not take any pictures of Madison with them 😦 Maybe next time…

Week Three Report

After what felt like a long break from homeschooling (and a longer break from this blog 😦 ), we are back! Since Madison went to visit her grandma the week before Christmas, we started back a week earlier. What I had not anticipated, however, was a visit from my sister and sister-in-law this past week (ages 15 and 13). We did school anyway, but only Bible, Math and Language Arts. The girls were actually a great help – they did a science experiment with her one day, and helped with her ETC book and math another day. It was nice having them here for a little while – it was like having live in dog walkers/babysitters/house cleaners – but I am glad they are home now and finally my life is back to what passes for normal these days.

So, here is our light weekly report for last week:

Reading: I have completely given up on 100 EZ lessons and wanted to start something new after the holidays. What I decided to try is two separate things, and neither one is really a new curriculum. First, I made up flash cards to go with the Bob books. I *thought* she could read the first few Bob books, but when I started working with the flash cards, I realized that she was just looking at the pictures and guessing. So we are using the flash cards to play games, like memory, a matching game that includes running, etc. For now, that is working great, but I think at some point she will be bored with it. Then I have her read me the book after we have practiced the words. My goal is for her to recognize these as sight words. The other thing I am using is a combination of Leap Frog products. Right before Christmas, a bunch of Leap Frog stuff was on sale, so I purchased the LeapPad Reading/Writing and their phonics sets. She had a baby leap pad that she liked and has been excited about this one. We do the phonics stuff together, but she plays with the other books I bought on her own as well. We have only done the first phonics book together (out of 12), but it is going well because she thinks it is fun. I did read through Phonics Pathways and the OPGTR, and while we might move to them later, for now I am going to stick with this.

All of this is in addition to ETC. We did the letter “m” this week, and made mud pies.

Math: Madison loves math. Again, I am not sure where this comes from, but I am glad. We are still doing two lessons, two days a week out of the Horizons K book, which is working great.

Bible: I think we are finally finished with Joseph!! I love that this material is so in depth as far as bible history: we have been studying Joseph for 12 weeks. And the best part is, after a quick review last Monday, Madison pretty much remembered the entire story (after 2 weeks of no school). We are also working on learning the books of the bible and have a timeline where we add new events each week.

Science: With my sisters, we did an experiment out of Mudpies to Magnets about shining pennies.

Other: We went to see Mr. Magorium’s Magic Emporium (which I don’t really recommend; it was a little weird), I got my haircut, we went to Bass Pro (that is kind of like a field trip, right?) and, of course, we went to storytime – even the aunts couldn’t persuade her to skip storytime. Also, over our holiday break, we went to the state capitol in Texas, and Nana took her to Exploration Place in Wichita, KS.

One other exciting addition to our homeschool room is a new easel from Grammie for Christma, which we added to our art center.

This week we will be starting Japanese with Rosetta Stone, which I am very excited about.

Today I think we are going to skip everything and go to the zoo – the zoo here is free on Mondays in Jan., and since it is 61 degrees outside today, I don’t think we should pass up the opportunity…

Week Two Report

Our second successful week of homeschooling! I call it successful because we managed to accomplish everything I wanted to and Madison was quite good.

Here is our week in pictures (I am going to have to start trying to take more pictures!)

On Sunday, we made gingerbread cookies and went to the Myriad Botanical Gardens in Downtown OKC. Church was canceled because of a major ice storm in Oklahoma, but the botanical gardens is close enough to our house to walk (plus it’s free on Sunday nights in December). It was really cold, but worth it I think.

On Monday, we started back up with homeschool. For Bible Study, we did 5 more lessons from the Bible Study Guide for All Ages. We did an extra one on Sunday since church was canceled.

For Reading, we did the letter B in our Explode the Code workbook and made banana bread from the Alpha Bakery Cookbook. We also read our library books and practiced reading with Bob books. She can read the first two on her own now. I have given up on 100 EZ Lessons and have decided for now that we will just do ETC and read lots and lots of books. I checked out Phonics Pathways and the Ordinary Parents Guide from the library as well, so over the Christmas holiday I am going to look through those books and see if I think either one will work for us.

I ordered her a LeapPad for Christmas, so that will be something she can do for fun that will hopefully reinforce reading skills. I was also able to check out the Talking Words DVD from the library, so we watched that as well as Letter Factory again.

For Math, we did four more lessons in Horizons K. We only do math on Tuesday and Thursday right now, so she is averaging about 2 lessons each day and she really likes it. Most of it right now is kind of like review for her because she already knows these numbers. We also play a lot of math games – we played Numbers Bingo and a time game this week, plus one with flash cards that I made up.

We also did an activity from Mudpies to Magnets for science, a violin lesson, and lots and lots of art. Art is her favorite thing to do.

Some other fun things we did this week: We went on a free canal ride in downtown OKC and on a ride called “Adventures in Santaland.” The canal ride was fun but really, really cold, and the other ride was extremely lame, but Madison loved it.

On Friday, Nana came down and picked Madison for the next week. My parents live about two hours away now and Madison has been begging to spend “one whole week” with Nana. Since we will be driving up there this Friday for Christmas, it was a great week for her to get some Nana time – which means we won’t be having homeschool this week.

Instead, I am hoping to get quite a few other things accomplished this week. First, when I was in college, I made copies of file folder games to use in my classroom one day but never finished them. I am hoping to finish those these week so that Madison will have them to play with in the afternoon. I am also planning to do quite a bit of holiday baking. I wish Madison was here to help with that, but I probably will get more done without her here. I may also try to make Christmas cards – it looks like they will be New Year’s cards this year 🙂 And finally, I am planning to make up my list of books for the 888 Reading Challenge.

So I won’t have a weekly report next week or the week after – we will be taking a two week break, then starting up again.

Our first week ever!

If you read my last post, then you know that my husband and I have decided to homeschool my daughter, age 4.  When we made that decision, we were living in Florida and I was working full time, however, we knew that we would be moving to Oklahoma in November.  So, I spent the last several months reading everything I could find about homeschooling, trying to make some curriculum decisions, and really looking forward to starting homeschool.

Now that we are settled in our new home in Oklahoma, I am excited to start being a stay at home, homeschooling mom.  Since Madison is only 4, I am trying really hard not to overwhelm her. She has been in preschool for the last year, so she has some expectations of what “school” should be like, but mostly, I am just trying to make it fun.  I am planning to do some school with her on Monday through Thursday, then on Friday we will go to storytime at the library and do other errands (grocery shopping, drycleaning, etc.)  So here is what we are doing –

First thing each morning, we start with a prayer and a Bible lesson.  I ordered the “Bible Study Guide for All Ages”, from www.biblestudyguide.com.  The program seeks to lay a strong foundation in biblical knowledge, and is available for three different age levels.  We are using the beginner level, which is for 3-K.  So far, it is fun for her and she seems to be retaining what she has learned. There are built in review questions, so I am hoping that will keep her retention level high.  We are doing a lesson each morning (4 per week).  This week (and the next two weeks) we are studying Joseph.  Today, there were ice storms in Oklahoma and church was cancelled, so Madison asked if we could do one of her bible lessons even though it wasn’t a homeschool day 🙂  So she likes it, I like it, Bible studies are going very well for us…

Another I try to do every day is read at least 5 picture books per day and 1 chapter book per week.  She loves to be read to and doesn’t think of this as school.  The only problem I foresee with this is a lack of books.  Since we are in transition right now (we are only living in Oklahoma for 6 months before moving to Japan, so we don’t really have any of our own stuff right now), we don’t have a whole lot of books(which is sad, since I have over 800 in storage 😦 ).  We are going to the library each week, but the library has a 30 book limit for checkout, and I really can’t carry more than that anyway.  We went Friday and checked out 30 books, however, we have not had a real school day since then and we have already read over half of them.  My solution?  I will have to make 2 trips to the library each week.  This may work out better actually, because I can make I trip by myself and pick out more specific books to fit with our weekly theme (I eventually hope to have a weekly theme), plus I can find books for myself to read and not have to worry so much about whether the time on my parking meter is about to expire.

For reading lessons, I started with “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.”  Madison wants to learn to read, and I bought this book a few months ago before we moved.  We did a couple of lessons there, which went pretty well – it wasn’t her favorite, but there is a writing section that we do on a little white board that she really likes.  However, this week, trying to do reading was a huge struggle.  She HATES this book.  I don’t want to push her because one, she is only four and two, I really want her to enjoy school, but I do want to do some sort of reading with her.  So I have come to the conclusion that I will have to try a new reading program with her.  I am going to take the next few weeks to do some research about different reading programs, then start a new one with her in January. (If any of you have a reccommendation, I would love to hear it!)

Another thing we are doing right now is the “Letter of the Week.”   This week was the letter F, and each day we do a different activity with the letter F.  The first day, we watch videos about the letter from United Streaming.  There is one about an animal that starts with each letter, and another about the letter that shows how to draw it, tells a story about it, etc.  The second day, she watches the video for the letter at www.starfall.com, plus any more that she wants to.  The third day, we make a quilt block with the letter on it (eventually we will put them all together to make a real quilt) and the fourth day, we cook something that starts with the letter.  I found a cookbook called the Alpha Bakery Cookbook, which you can request for free at http://www.bettycrocker.com/products/gold-medal-flour/cookbooks-for-kids.htm (all you pay is about $4 shipping), and it has a recipe for each letter of the alphabet.  This week, we made fudge brownies.   Also, I ordered the Explode the Code books A, B, and C.  They have several pages of activities for each letter, which so far, Madison really likes.  Also, we watch one of the leapfrog videos about letters/reading each week.  That is the only TV I let her watch (except for “Friday Night Family Movie Night”).

Each of those things, we do every school day (4 days a week).  Then on Monday, we do art using the book “Scribble Art,” by Mary Ann Kohl.  On Tuesday, we do one of the activities from the book “Mudpies to Magnets.” On Wednesday and Thursday, we do Violin Lessons using www.theviolinbook.com – right now I am teaching her, but as she gets more advanced I will put her back in lessons. On Wednesday, we do a game from Level 0 and on Thursday, we do a lesson from Book 1. 

On Tuesday and Thursday, we also do math.  Initially, I was not planning to do math with her until later, but I ordered Horizons K for later.  She saw the book and has been begging to do it.  The first day, she wanted to keep going and going – we did five lessons before she was ready to take a break.  On Thursday, we did 3 more lessons.  She said math is her favorite part of doing school, which is surprising to me, but I am going to go with it.  As long as she wants to do it, I will keep teaching it.

After Christmas, I am planning to also start Japanese with her using the Rosetta Stone software.  My husband can access it free through work, and since we are moving to Japan in April, I think it is important for both of us to start learning the language.

Overall, I think our first week went much better than I had hoped.  I know this sounds like a lot for her to do, but in actuality, we did school for less than 2 hours each day – and she asked to do more school on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so it must be fun for her – which makes me really happy. 

Some other fun things we did this week – on Friday, we went to storytime at the library.  On Saturday, we went to the Oklahoma City Civic Center to see The Nutcracker, then went ice skating, and tonight we went to see the christmas lights at the Myriad Botanical Gardens.  All of these things were in walking distance from our new apartment, which is really nice.  I am loving living downtown in Oklahoma City so far. 

Finally, I was hoping to add a slide show with pictures our first week – I probably should have put it at the top, because I doubt many people read this far 🙂 – but I can’t get slide.com to work for me right now, so I might add it in later.  Also later this week, I am going to try to post pictures of the homeschooling space I have set up and post about the “Treat Jar” system I am trying to do with Madison to encourage good behavior.

EDITED to add our slide show from Week 1:

Until then, have a great week!!