Friday, May 28, 2010

An Educational Prank

Last week when we were at the park we had found a green caterpillar on a nearby tree and decided to bring it home.
Our caterpillar has been pretty slow and groggy since we brought him home, not eating too much, but still alive.
I check on him every morning and throughout the day.

This morning when I went to check on him I couldn't believe my eyes - he had turned into a moth!! A really beautiful black and red moth!!

I called Treyton over to him we exchanged "Oh my words!!"  I then gave Treyton a short lesson on a life cycle of a caterpillar/butterfly and we talked about how amazing the transformation was. Then I picked up the phone to call Tim --- he was not going to believe it!!

When Tim answered I said "You're not going to believe it, I went to check on the caterpillar this morning and he turned into a butterfly!!"

Tim said "Are you serious? That's unbelievable!"

I said "Yes!!! I can't believe it either - I thought he was dying - I was actually going to...."
I heard Tim laughing

He said "Amber, I caught the butterfly in the garage this morning and put him in there."

I said "Are you serious?!?!"

.... more laughter....
Tim said "I did feel a little bad about it and was going to call you before you told Treyton, but I got busy at work and I forgot."


"Sure, you did!"

.... even more laughter.... I then said "I'm going to hang up now" and promptly did. 

~~~~

So, our caterpillar didn't really turn into a butterfly, but Treyton did ask alot of questions about "dad's joke" and actually learned a little bit about the life cycle of a butterfly in the process.
And mom learned a valuable lesson too: I need to investigate more closely before I call dad to tell him of a discovery, and to always be on guard against my practical joker of a husband - even when he's not here!!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Frustrated

This afternoon I sat down and started trying to put my lesson plans together for the upcoming year, I love doing this stuff but I need to take a break and just vent a little bit because I'm frustrated.

After spending an entire weekend knee deep in curriculum and lesson plans, I find that once again there is not a perfect curriculum out there for us. I love our eclectic style and our approach because it works for us, but I also want a curriculum that I can follow, that is already written and put together, that fits us so that I don't have to do it ALL.

Truth be told, I LOVE writing my own curriculum for my kids and I love coming up with my own ideas and activities, but I just don't have the amount of time or energy I need to get it all done, and the truth is, I am only really homeschooling one child right now, what happens when I'm homeschooling more than one?

This weekend as I was looking around at a curriculum that would work for Treyton, I noticed that he is performing in between the Kindergarten and 1st grade level in many areas. I don't want to spend our time (or money) repeating what he just learned (for example, letter sounds and CVC words), and I also don't want to push him too hard into a curriculum he isn't ready for. I don't mind what we're doing now, but I really wanted to find a curriculum that would help me out a little bit more, freeing up a little bit of my time.



I am attracted to the Sonlight, FIAR, My Father's World, Literature based unit study approach. I am also very attracted to Tapestry of Grace and the more classical approach to homeschooling... if there was just a way to combine all off these curriculums and find one that is a perfect blend without having to do it all myself and spend hours.... okay, days, doing it?

Sigh.... I know our school will be great, and I am not going to do anyhting that doesn't work for us, I just wish that there was a way to get it done without spending all of my time doing it.

Okay, enough complaining, it's time to get back to work!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Great News!!

I am happy to announce that I have been selected to be part of TOS Homeschool Crew for the 2010-11 year! I am extremely honored and excited to be a part of the Crew for the coming up year, and I look forward to all the upcoming opportunities it will provide for both my family and I.
Stay tuned for what I am sure are going to be some great reviews!!

Kindertgarten Curriculum

I have finally narrowed down my choices for our upcoming Kindergarten year and have ordered all of my curriculum - here is what we will be using throughout our upcoming year.
As I started writing this, I realized that it seems like alot, but the truth is, we will not do all 9 of our subjects throughout our entire year and never will we do all 9 in one week. We rotate some of our subjects to keep things fresh, we will usually try to get through our core 5 subjects each week which are Bible, Science or Nature, Language Arts (which is Phonics and Spelling) and Math.
We will not be using all of our resources in each subject each week. For some of our subjects we have a large variety of resources and curriculum, we will not be trying to complete every assignment of every curriculum, that would obviously be too much.

Our core curriculum is My Fathers World from A to Z - Kindergarten 

Bible (our History):
Grapevine Studies along with lessons I write

Language Arts (Phonics and Spelling):
Though our primary phonics is in MFW I am using the following as supplements
Sonlight - Beginning to Read (with Readers)
Explode the Code - Books 1 & 2
Happy Phonics
Progressive PhonicsBook 1
Other Hands On Tools (most of which I make)

Math:
Horizons K
Hands-On manipulatives and games

Other Science:

Christian Liberty Press "The World God Made"
Experiment and Activity Books/Websites
Science for Fun by Gary Gibson
The Kids Science Book by Robert Hirschfeld and Nancy White
Kidssoup

Nature Study:
Nature Study Handbook by Anna Comstock
Nature Journal


Literature:
Before Five in a Row (with Alexa)
Homeschool Share B4FIAR Resources
* I will be weaving this with Treyton's science, coorelating the units as much as I can.

Handwriting:
A Reason for Handwriting

Art:
Draw-Write-Now
* Our Bible curriculum is incorporating a lot of drawing and our science units will have crafts weaved throughout them as well.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Nature Study: Dandelions - Books

Its been a couple weeks since we did our dandelion unit but it's taken me a while to get the books listed.  We read several books - these ones were our favorites.(For our dandelion study I got most of my recommendations from Virginia over at Roger's Family Blog.)

Dandelion Adventures by Patricia Kite
An adorable book that starts off with 7 dandelion seeds floating through the air, and talks about where they each land and grow. One lands in a side walk crack, another in a garden, one floats to a ship and travels to faraway lands; each seed has their own unique adventure. Creatively written this book really held Treyton's interest and had him asking informed questions.
The back of the book held 4 pages of fun facts about dandelions - like did you know a dandelion root can grow up to 3 feet long.  

From Seed to Dandelion 
This book is more of a simple and factual science book for kids with real-life pictures.

Life Cycles Dandelions by Robin Nelson
Treyton enjoyed the pictures in this book and it was another simple and fun science type book. 


Dandelions Stars in the Grass by Mia Posada
I really enjoyed this book. A rhythmic book that takes you through the life cycle of a dandelion, in a beautifully descriptive story.
My favorite part of the book (for homeschooling) was the back which had some fun science ideas, facts about dandelions and even a dandelion recipe.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Book Study: The Very Busy Spider

I loved the last Eric Carle book we did (Brown Bear) I decided to do another one. This time we went with "The Very Busy Spider". We own this book and the kids enjoy it so it was an easy choice to go with.

When I looked up stuff for this book most of the units were pointed towards a study of spiders but because we had a done a spider unit earlier this year I decided to focus on farm animals instead. For Alexa my focus was animal sounds, for Treyton I kept it pretty simple and focused primarily on matching mommy and baby farm animals, and other farm related worksheets and printables I found on-line. 

Crafts
Sticker Farm Scene: One of the kids favorite activities this week was making a farm scene with stickers. This one is Treyton's but Lexie did it too. 
 
The children also made the goose craft that I printed out from DLTK 

Printables and Worksheets 
I got most of alot of my printables off of Kidssoup  which I recently became a member of - I LOVE the resources they have there, and I look forward to using them more in our future studies. I have an entire list of websites that we used below for printables, crafts and ideas. These are just a few of the worksheets he did.
Treyton worked on several dot-to-dots, some alphabet ones and and some number ones. 
Copywork 
For this units copywork, I printed off this animal booklet with lines at Kidzone Page 1, and Page 2  . I wrote down the spellings of each animal and had him copy them into his own book. He did a great job. 
Activities 
I played a game with Lexa where I put out all the animals and would ask her to find certain ones - She did awesome!! She struggled with the goat and horse, but did pretty well with the rest of them. Before this week she knew what a dog and cat said - this week she learned what a cow says and what a lamb says. 
Her favorite animal to talk about this week was definitely the cow!!

Each of the kids worked on Melissa and Doug Farm Puzzles 
Treyton did the cube puzzle 

Here is Lexa coloring a picture - just a little something extra 
Songs 
By far the favorite song this week that we sang EVERYDAY was Old MacDonald. 
We also sang "The Itsy Bitsy Spider"

That's what we've done so far for the book - as well as completing our lapjournal pages. Which incidentally, I don't have a picture of right now... maybe later :)

Farm Animal Resources and Links we used 
Making Learning Fun - A-Z Pig Dot to Dot
Virtual Vine - Old MacDonald  
Kidzone - Farm Animal Coloring Page with Lines Page 1, Page 2 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Preschool Wrap-Up May 2010

I haven't had an update on here lately as far as Treyton's general subject go. Seeings as how this is one of our final weeks of preschool I wanted to do a quick overview of what Treyton has been doing lately.

Math 
Treyton is continuing on in his Horizon's K Math book. He is on lesson 21 and is doing GREAT!! I cannot believe how well he is doing. He really enjoys doing math and will even ask to do it. I think math is going to be one of those "easy" subjects for Treyton. He is really good at memorizing and learning facts. He either got it or he doesn't.... there is no "maybe" or "guess work" with him. Math and numbers fall easily into that type of learning.
He continues to struggle with some number recognition - he just learned 9 this week. But still struggles with 8, 10, 11, 12 13, and 18. He can count to 29 rote, can count to 100 with a transitional help from me, count by 2s to 10, tell hour time, and knows ordinal numbers (1st - 4th). It's strange to me, because he excels so much in math EXCEPT in number recognition - which actually slows him down in some of the other areas.
I recently found this Curious George 411 game which Treyton loves and had been very helpful exposing him to some of his numbers in a fun way.

Phonics
He is working through Explode the Code book 1, we have been taking it pretty slow, but he is learning a lot of basic phonic concepts as we go through it. We are using alot of extra, reading tools and manipulatives. Treyton really likes reading the progressive phonics book and I have made him a lot of reading flashcards - on one side I write the word, on the other side is the word with a picture. Treyton really likes to practice with these too. He loves to count how many he can get :)
When he wants to, Treyton can read pretty much any CVC short /a/ word as well as many /i/ words.He is also learning sight words; so far he has learned a, at, on, is. He is currently working on the and had.

Geography 
I have put geography on hold a little bit just because we haven't really gotten back into school full force since Audrey, and our focus has been in other subjects

Daily Board 
We continue to work on the days of the week, which Treyton has down, the months of the year which he is catching on to better than I thought he would. We go over the spelling of our last name, the weekly shape, weekly color (more for Lexa), memory verse, letter of the week, number of the week, sight words, weather, temperature, etc.
He truly enjoys the daily board and even asks to do it on the weekend. He is learning alot through the board. He loves having his own calendar and keeping track of fun things that are coming up.


Literature and Book Studies - Science
We have done two book studies so far (based on the B4FIAR) Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See by Eric Carle and The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle. These studies were very general/animal based. Two new concepts that Treyton has focused on is reading retention, memory and copy work. We have really enjoyed this approach to learning especially including Lexa in with our school. Which brings me to one of the more exciting lessons of school that Treyton is learning right now - and that is how to teach and be patient with Lexie. He is learning alot of valuable lessons in the process of slowing down and teaching Lexa with the book studies and daily board. 

Nature Study 
You can read about our first nature study on Dandelions here and about our recent field trip to the nature center in our area here. I plan on doing a spring/plant study next. Treyton was very interested in roots when we studied dandelions and continues to be so we are already laying the ground work for learning parts of a plant, how plants receive nutrients, pulling weeds, etc. We also plan to plant our vegetable garden in the next week or so which should go right along with the whole thing.

I have been so proud of Treyton, he is so hungry to learn and is always asking to do school. I look forward to starting Kindergarten in a few weeks.

Nature Center Field Trip

We took the kids to the nature center to feed to geese as part of our Farm/Very Busy Spider Unit, but we spent a little too long at the park and missed it, it was all good though because the Nature Center was still open so we still had a fun time there and the kids actually learned a little something too. 
Here we are going into the nature center. The trails there are great. Treyton got within a foot or so of a chipmunk, Lexa and I right behind him. That was pretty neat.
Lexa put her hand in the bears mouth - so brave!! 
So did Treyton, here he is acting out how he would react if a bear has your arm :)
The kids were able to touch different types of animal fur/skin - they even had elephant skin... interesting....
They have lots of preserved animals there for the kids to look at. Here is Treyton in the tunnel looking at the rabbit.
(They have a tunnel and a hollow tree for the kids to go through to show the types of animals that make homes in tunnels and hollow trees)
Here is Treyton looking at a live honeybee nest - he has recently shown a real fear about bees, so he was very excited that they were behind the glass.

They also had a station of different kinds of scat. Treyton and dad were finally able to solve the mystery of what kind of animal was walking around our flower garden this winter... it was a rabbit, not a deer.

Though our little field trip didn't fit into my theme as I had planned we had a great time and the kids still experienced nature in a fun hands-on way, which was worth it for me.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Unit Study: Field Trip (Frogs)

It just so happened that as we were doing our frog unit, the local Children's Museum had a frog exhibit. My mom and sister brought up my niece who is also studying frogs and we had a little field trip. To be honest, I was hoping for a little more from the exhibit, but we still got some out of it. The kids got to see frogs of all colors and sizes and we did review alot of the things we learned about frogs.
Here are the kids on a giant frog (Treyton liked this, Shayla was a little scared)
Here's my mom and Treyton looking at some frogs

The real excitement and fun came from the rest of the museum... there were tons of things for the kids to do. We were there for almost 4 hours.... a great day!! 
Here are the kids in the "under 3" room... Treyton is obviously over, but he enjoyed this room as much as Lexa for sure :)
I am sad to say that we have lived in the area 4 years and have never been to this museum before. I really enjoyed it and I plan on going back again soon.
This was the ball room... you would put the balls in baskets and then they would work their way up through the tubes into a basket above you, once the timer went off the balls would fall to the ground... very fun, we spent a while in this room... the adults were fascinated :)
The kids dressed up like fireman
They didn't have a small enough outfit for Audrey... that made her sad... but she still got her picture taken
The heart slide... my sister was completely floored by this!! It also made a sound like a heart beat.... she took lots of pictures :) I'll be honest, it's pretty neat.

It was the simple things that had Lexa most excited.
The waterroom, Autumn and I were proud of ourselves for attempting this room, but we rushed going through this room for sure :) Oh yeah, and there I am (in the background - see I did go!)
And I wanted to put this one in here so you could see my adorable nephew, Lukas ;)

There was also a "davinci room" where we enjoyed doing some art projects, painting, face painting, magnet studies and rat petting.... yes, I said RATS (not my favorite part of the day, but probably Lexie's).

Monday, May 10, 2010

Nature Study: Dandelions

This past week we had our first "real" nature-study. We started with the study of dandelions, mostly because we have a lot of subjects to work with and the study was rather obvious by just looking out our back door :)

Dandelion Observation


One of the first things we did as part of our nature study was to dig up a dandelion from it's roots (after taking pictures of it) and observed it's parts

Something that Treyton was particularly interested in was the center of the plant and how it didn't fill in the same as the outer ring of the plant. He also noticed "milk" coming from the root - I told him that this was called latex (he didn't really care what the real name was :))

He also observed "feathers" on the stems of the flower. He dictated and I recorded his observations into our Nature Field Journal (a spiderman notebook) ;)

Dandelion Life Cycle
We went out and observed dandelions in nature. We talked about how we don't want dandelions in our yard, how they are weeds and how when they grow in our flower garden they can kill off the other flowers. We picked dandelions at all different stages of the life cycle and discussed the life cycle of a dandelion.

Taste Testing
In doing research for our nature study I saw a recipe for a Dandelion Salad, instead of making a salad we opted to just try a taste... I told Treyton they tasted bitter, he kept asking me what bitter meant... after he tried it I said "That taste is what bitter is." he got it!
 Lexa wouldn't try a dandelion, she kept pretending she would but then she would put it down and just laugh and pretend to do it again.... 
Having so many dandelions in our yard and beautiful weather one afternoon, we decided to read our dandelion books in the yard amongst our very subject. This was great! As I was reading the stories when certain stages or parts of the dandelion were discussed, Treyton would merely lean over and grab what we were discussing in the book and would compare the pictures in the book to the reality he had in front of him.
Dandelion Germination
And of course you couldn't have a dandelion study without, after talking about the seeds and life cycle of a dandelion, helping nature out by spreading a few seeds yourself :)


Dandelion Dissection
After collecting more dandelions (we had plenty of subjects to work with) we went ahead and brought them inside for a little bit of in-depth study. We began to cut them apart and take a closer look inside.
The first thing we cut open was the stem, showing how the stem was hollow and open (like a straw). Treyton felt the inside with his finger and described it as "bumpy and on the sides, soft".
 As we began to cut open the top Treyton observed (without realizing it) three different stages of the dandelion seed. We compared what the seeds look like as part of a dandelion flower, then we took seeds from a closed up (almost mature dandelion) as well as the seeds from a fully mature dandelion.

We saw that the seeds go from white to cream to brown as it matures with the flower.

Dandelion Seed Experiment
After observing our seeds, and petals from all different stages of a dandelion, Treyton wanted to see if any of them would fly, like the seed parachutes.
We quickly learned that the yellow flower parts do not fly as one piece. So we cut a flower in half and removed the seeds leaving us with lots of yellow petals. Still, the petals would not fly. Treyton's hypothesis was that they needed the seeds to fly.
We then tried to have the seeds fly away (with the yellow flower parts attached) and they still would not. We then concluded that it was the white "feathers" that in fact helped the seeds to fly.

Measurements 
We took a walk around the house in search of the tallest dandelion we could find. We collect several specimens and brought them back to the patio for a further more in depth analysis. After lining up our collections we narrowed it down to the dandelion we suspected to be the tallest, from there we measured them out and came to find that our tallest dandelion was just over 16 inches (when straightened out)!! We were impressed with our findings. :)

Nature-Study Recordings
With this study Treyton and I started a nature-study field guide. (Though we don't call it that, Treyton was very confused with me calling it a field, because a 'field' to him is a piece of farm land). I would record Treyton's observations and findings as he dictated them, asking him clarifying questions only. I illustrated a few of our specimen's and then Treyton would also.
 

On one of the final days of our study, Treyton decided he wanted to draw different pictures of dandelions from his collections of the day, he then proceeded to draw on his own.... besides the one orange leaf I think they turned out great!

Overview:
This was a very satisfying study. Treyton learned not only about dandelions but also about nature-studying. He learned about journalling his finding, drawing in his field journal and observing. I am LOVING nature study (now that I understand what it truly is). I am so very grateful that I came across Anna Comstock's Nature Study Handbook at our public library and that I was also able to find it for a good deal so I now own it! I look forward to our next study... whatever it may be!

To see more dandelion studies, what others have done visit the Handbook of Nature Study Blog