Tag Archives: science

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:

Bible

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.

Reading/Phonics

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.

Handwriting

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.

Math

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.

Other

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.

Week 16 1/2 Report

For the last week and a half, we have been studying the human body – I waited to post this weekly report because I wanted to include all the human body stuff in one big post, plus we are leaving tomorrow for a week in New Mexico with my grandparts, so today is the end of our week 17.  Well, we are taking a little bit of stuff to do in the airport, but we are pretty much done.

We had a really great week!  We used a unit that I am creating for the HSS Blast contest, and I really enjoyed it.  We used the books Inside Your Outside, by Tish Rabe, The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body, by Joanna Cole, plus about 20 other books that were about the body system.  Some of the fun stuff we did was 1) Make a brain, 2) Draw a human body outline and fill in the major parts – we did this with chalk since I didn’t have any butcher paper, 3) Make a plaster mold of our hands, and 4) A trip to the human body exhibit at our science museum.  I don’t know if you have head of this exhibit, but it is actual human bodies dissected, and it was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen in my life.  Madison thought it was a little gross, and I guess I did too, but it was also really cool.  I have pictures of all this stuff, but I forgot my computer at my parents house this weekend and my husband is out of town for work (and had the nerve to take his computer with him!!), so I am at the library typing this before we leave town tomorrow.  Anyway, to read more about our unit, you will have to wait until it is published at HSS.

The rest of our week was regular, although I am contemplating a few changes to our curriculum, mainly math…  I am thinking about switching to Right Start.  Some other things I wanted to blog about:  how we use our memory CD (since I was asked 🙂 ),  our upcoming unit studies, our current progess with Headsprout, and much much more… but all that will have to wait until we return from New Mexico.

We also went to the circus with Grandma Sandy on Friday night.  That was definitely an experience, and again, I will post some pictures when we return home.  We;ll be back next Tuesday, so until then, have a great week!

 

Green Hour Challenge #1

We literally just walked in from our nature study and I am so pumped!!  I am not at all a nature girl.  At all.  I have kind of been putting this off, partly because of our traveling, and partly because we live in downtown OKC and we really would have to drive somewhere to find some nature.

So today we drove up to my parents house.  They live in the country in Kansas.  It is a beautiful day and when we got here, no one was home.  I thought it would be a great opportunity to get started on our nature study.

I realize we are going to be behind pretty much everyone, but I am ok with that.

So anyway, our walk today went great.  We have been talking a lot about trees at home since they have been blooming outside and look beautiful, so right off I led her to the pine trees in my parents yard.  Madison found a pinecone, then we walked a bit more and saw a butterfly.  We couldn’t get really close, but I did get a picture of it – we will have to zoom way in though.  I think it might have been a monarch, but once I get my pictures online, I will give it a closer look.

Then we saw holes in the ground and I asked Madison what she thought might have made them – I was thinking snake, but first she said crab, which actually makes since because when we lived in Florida, we saw the holes fiddler crabs make in the sand on the beach.  Then she said “No wait, my dad told me about this – they are homes for Wolf Spiders.”  Wow.  I guess she has already been getting some nature study and I didn’t know it!

On the way back, we saw tons of dandelions and I was trying to explain that these yellow flowers are the same ones that turn white-ish and you can blow on them and make wishes.  We found a root system (?) that had a yellow one attached, and one that was turning white, so that was nice to be able to show her.

Finally, we saw fruit trees that were flowering.  I am sad to say I don’t know what kind of trees they are, but I guess I will ask my parents when they get home.

When we got inside, I asked Madison what her favorite part was, and she said the butterfly.  I asked if there were two things she wanted to find out more about and she said “Wait, can I pick 3?”  So she picked dandelions, wolf spiders, and trees.  I am surprised she did not pick butterflies over spiders, but that is ok with me.

I’m surprised to say it, but I am looking forward to next week.  I will be in Kansas till Tuesday, and then Madison is staying the rest of the week with her grandparents, so I think we will try to take another walk on Monday.

I am planning to add pictures to this, but I forgot my camera cord and I wanted to write this out pretty quick so I wouldn’t forget this feeling of excitement.  Once my brother gets home and I coerce him to give me the password to his computer, I will add pictures some using his memory card reader.  It pays to be in a family of dorks ☺

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.