Tag Archives: math

End of First Quarter Report

So this will be my first homeschool report since moving to Japan and starting Kindergarten, so you may want to grab a cup of coffee before you start reading what I am sure will turn into a novel.  Given my past history.

We have been doing school for about 9 weeks now, a total of 50 days.  This actually puts us about even with the local DoDDS school here – I checked, because I was worried that we were getting behind.

Overall, I am really happy with where we are right now.  We definitely started out a little slow in September, for multiple reasons, but mainly because I was having second thoughts about whether we were making the right choice, or whether Madison should even start Kindergarten this year.  It also didn’t help that I didn’t receive some of our books until October – they took two months to arrive – you really can’t predict shipping times around here.

It’s easy to say we’re going to homeschool when we had a preschool age child, but once Madison was old enough to actually start school, I kept feeling like I was going to mess this up somehow.  And since her birthday isn’t until October 25th, she wouldn’t be starting school if we lived almost anywhere in the states, but here in the DoDDs school system, the cutoff date for Kindergarten is October 31st.  After a lot of consideration, we decided to go ahead and start her with Kindergarten now.  And I do feel like that was probably the right choice for us right now.  She is definitely doing great with school, and most of my apprehension is gone now (which is not to say that it won’t return in the future…).

So here’s where we are:


We have continued with Bible Study Guide for All Ages where we left off at the end of preschool. We are about a quarter of the way through Unit 2.  I am still really happy with this program.  I’m really impressed by how much she remembers, and I am learning from it too.  I especially love that it goes through the entire Bible teaching the facts at the appropriate age level.  We are still using the Beginner Level, which is for ages 3-K, and I plan to continue using it until we get through all 4 Units, which should be the end of First grade, and then we’ll start over using the next level.


We finished up with Headsprout.  Her reading skills are definitely not as strong as I’d hoped they would be at the end of this program, but she is definitely reading, which I am thrilled about.

We are about halfway through Book Two of Explode the Code, which is helping reinforce what she learned through Headsprout.  I’m hoping to get through Book 4 by the end of this year.  We are also doing ETC online in addition to the hard copy books.  It’s basically doing the same thing twice, but she enjoys having computer time and I think the extra practice is good for her.

I also added in First Language Lessons for Little Ones.  The main reason I wanted to add this is for the picture study and the poetry appreciation, but it also teaches phonics rules and has copywork, so it’s extra reading practice.  We started with Volume Three and I think that was a good place.  We didn’t get the book until about a month ago, but we are already on Lesson 42.  And Madison loves it, which is surprising because reading is not normally her favorite.  I think I will probably move on to the next book in this series next year for language/grammar/copywork for first grade because so far we are both really enjoying it.

Also for reading we are, well, reading.  Madison read most of the books that went with Headsprout, most of the Bob books I have, and now we are just picking leveled readers from the library.  I try to have her read two new books each day, and then she has to choose one to reread to Dad when he comes home from work.  But, sometimes I do just let her do just one chapter or one story because some of those leveled readers are long.  I also purchased McGuffey’s Eclectic Primer and have her read a few lessons out of there at the end of each week.

And finally, I also read to her every day.  We have read My Father’s Dragon, Elmer and the Dragon, The Dragons of Blueland, Meet Kit, and now we are working on Anne of Green Gables.  We’ve also read tons of picture books.


Initially, I didn’t plan to do any formal handwriting; I thought I would just add it in other areas.  But after watching her writing develop, I thought it would be good to teach her how to correctly write letters.  We are using Handwriting Without Tears about three days a week (up from two days a week at the beginning of the year).  She really likes it, it takes less than 5-10 minutes each day, and I have definitely seen improvement in her writing.  After I teach her the “correct” way to write a letter, she generally remembers and writes it that way, which is normally neater and quicker.  We just finished with capital letters and will start on lowercase letters next week.

I’ve also done a few lessons from Draw Write Now with her.  She loves doing them, but we just add it in for fun on Fridays when we have time.


We continued with Right Start Level A where we left off at the end of preschool.  We are on Lesson 38, which is not as far as I hoped we’d be, but like I said, we got off to a slow start.  I love this program.  I actually think it moves a little slow for her right now, but I’m happy with that too.  I like that there’s hardly any worksheets and there is a lot of hands on.  And I really feel like it’s sinking in.  Previously, we did the first half of Horizons Kindergarten, and she got all the answers right, but I didn’t feel like she was actually getting it.  That may or may not have been true, but I am much happier with the feel and the pace of Right Start.  We do Right Start 3 or 4 days a week, depending on our schedule.  There are also a lot of games that go with the program, so Madison and Matt play some of the math games each night for extra practice.

We are also supplementing Right Start with Singapore Earlybird Kindergarten Math.  The main reason I added that is because I didn’t want her to learn to answer questions for Right Start; I wanted her to have practice doing math a different way.  She loves doing the Singapore because it is so easy for her.  I ordered the Level 1A and 1B, which were ovbiously too easy because she did both of them, for fun, in three weeks.  She calls Singapore her “Fun Math.”  So then I ordered Level 2A and 2B (those four books comprise Singapore’s Kindergarten math program) and we are working through them now.  We got the books on Tuesday and we are on Lesson 4 in Book 2A now.

Five in a Row (Social Studies and Science)

This is probably the one thing about our Kindergarten curriculum that I am not sure about.  I know that a lot of people use it and love it, but I am really not feeling it.  We’ve still done it every week, but it’s just not what I wanted it to be, if that makes sense.  Basically, Five in a Row is a curriculum where you read the same book each day for five days, and each day you do a different activity based on the book.  For example, one day we talk about the geography – where the book takes place – and we find that place on the map.  Another day, we talk about the type of art used in the book and explore different mediums.  There also normally language activities, math activities, and science activities.  We do the geography and art every week, but we don’t always get to the science.  That is probably the subject that has gotten the shaft so far in Kindergarten.  I even bought some science experiment books, but we just haven’t really gotten them off the shelf yet.

One thing we did that Madison and I both loved was pumpkin week.  We spent the whole week studying pumpkins and cooking with pumpkins and made a pumpkin lapbook and it was wonderful.  I enjoyed it so much more than FIAR, and I think Madison did too, because it was her idea.  So I’ve decided to stick with FIAR except for once a month when Madison will get to pick a subject that we study for a week for fun.  Some of the things we’ve talked about doing are apples, oceans, butterflies, etc.


Originally, I had wanted to enroll Madison at the DoDDs elementary school for specials so that she could go in each day for an hour, be with other kids and get her art/music/PE time in, but after a lot of thought, Matt and I decided that we didn’t want to commit to that this year.  The time wasn’t great for our schedule, and I really didn’t want to have to fit that in when the baby is born in March.  But we did still find some other activities for Madison to essentially serve the same purpose.  She is in ballet once a week, we go to Storytime once a week, she is in Girl Scouts which meets every two weeks, and of course, she has bible class at church.  We also just started an art class which meets twice a week.  I don’t know if we will continue to do the art thing, right now that is just on a trial basis.  I don’t want to overwhelm her, but so far, our schedule is pretty relaxed.  Almost everything we do away from home is on Wednesday, which makes for one crazy day, but the rest of the week is great.  I’m also looking into Japanese lessons (I’m waiting to hear back from the instructor) and would like to start music lessons after the holidays, but in order to start those things, we may have to cut something else…

So that is pretty much where we are with homeschool for the year.  I’d like to commit to writing weekly reports, but I just don’t know if that is going to happen.  No promises.  I will say I am very happy with where we are as far as Kindergarten goes, and I think that Matt and I made the right choice to go ahead and start her.

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.

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 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 🙂


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.


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 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!!