Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Happy Feast of St. Nicholas

I didn't forget....almost...but I didn't!

Tonight after getting nearly everyone into bed I looked at the calendar.  *gasp*  We didn't put the shoes out.  More importantly, I didn't get anything to put into the shoes!

(Tradition has it that you put your shoes outside before going to bed on Dec. 5 and the next morning St. Nicholas will have left a little surprise).

My husband and I have made last minute St. Nic runs at night but neither of us were interested this time.  But, we can't forget this year!

Last year our little Abigail was only 4 days old and being admitted to the hospital for jaundice.  We really didn't think about the day...Dec. 5.  Apparently the younger kids were a bit unsettled when they realized they forgot to put their shoes out and that St. Nicholas had skipped us. The older kids made up some plausible excuse and all was well.  They were more worried about their little sister.  (Who came home on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception - how cool!)

Well, this year they were asking me if St. Nicholas would forget us again.  How sad.  I explained that it was our first December in our new house and St. Nicholas didn't know we'd moved.  This year would be NO PROBLEM!  So....I can't screw this one up! 

I needed to find something. Fast.  My oldest daughter (who was still awake) offered her candy...though it's the same candy I have piles of leftovers from Halloween.  Then I remembered the box of miscellaneous gifts I'd purchased over the years.  Matchbox cars, very small Lego sets, Nerf darts, notepads, etc. Aha!  I found something for everyone!  There was even a board book for Abby.  I don't even remember buying that!

So...tonight I will sneak the filled boots out the back door.  And, tomorrow morning I can wake them up with the news, "St. Nicholas came, let's go see what he left for you!"  They'll run.  And then tomorrow when I'm helping my 8th and 9th graders...instead of the younger kids typical 45 minutes of a few chores and recess...they can watch the CCC movie about St. Nicholas.  Again.

Happy Feast of St. Nicholas!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Math curriculum - finally

Well, we've finished our 1st quarter and I am finally happy with our chosen math curriculums for this year.  I love math.  I really do.  Most of my kids don't share my enthusiasm for the subject...but a few do :)

In my 13+ *gasp* years of homeschooling we have used many different math curriculums.
  1. Rightstart
  2. MCP
  3. Saxon
  4. Teaching Textbooks
  5. Math-U-See
  6. Singapore
My favorite is Rightstart!  Hands down....Trouble is it takes a lot of one on one time.   Not necessarily a bad thing...but since I currently have children in grades Pre-K, 2, 3, 5, 8, 9 (plus a baby and a college student) and reading, etc. are also very important...well, I just don't have time for the long lessons.  But, I am so glad that I used it in the past because I use the methods I learned while teaching it to my students even today. 

The only program I can honestly still say I am not thrilled with is MCP.  But, hey....I used to say I hated Math-U-See but I have had a change of who knows.

So, this year...
  • Algebra I student is using Saxon (because I have him take a class at a home school coop and that is what they use) For those of you who know me well you are probably thinking....if she majored in math....why can't she teach Algebra?  I love Algebra...But, again, I only have so much time and my son and I decided together that this would be a good solution.  And you know what.  It's working great.  I can still help him when needed.  And...the other time I spend with him can be to discuss Religion, U.S. History, etc.   Win -Win.  And...turns out Saxon is a great book for him!
  • Pre-Algebra student is using Math-U-See.  She learns differently.  She does much better learning a concept, practicing only that concept for a few days, then doing cumulative review pages.  She is a smart cookie but doesn't approach math like her older brother or myself.  I've been better able to (with this program) step back and see math from her point of view and teach it to her in a different way.
  • 5th grader is using Teaching Textbooks.  He does it all on his own and is doing really well with it.  We've used it for a few years for various students and will continue to do so.  He doesn't need to wait for help - the program teaches it - and I can answer questions when needed (though he rarely needs it).  I particularly like the auto grading.  I think it's the best part of the program.  Every problem is graded as it is answered.  No more doing an entire page of problems wrong because someone forgot a simple little rule.  If he gets something wrong he gets another chance...he can also view the solution if he chooses so that he can learn where his mistake was made.  Great idea!
  • 3rd grader is just finishing Teaching Textbooks grade 3 and will begin Math-U-See grade Delta (grade 4).  Why the switch?  My 3rd grader seems to have quite the math brain and I intend to help him take advantage of that.   Like I said above, Math-U-See uses a different approach to worksheets.  1 Lesson, 3 practice pages, 3 review pages, 1 test.  For someone who grasps math quickly we can cut out some pages.  If he does well on the first practice page (and I think he really understands the concept) I'll have him do a review page, etc. The reason I am doing this is because I want to make room in his/my schedule for Singapore math's Challenging Word Problems 3*.  We've done a few problems and he loves it!  His 5th grade brother, not wanting to be outdone, has asked to join us :)
  • 2nd grader is working with Math-U-See as well.  I tried Singapore math with her but it didn't go so well.  She could do all the work but it just wasn't working for her.  Hard to explain...we also found out near the end of the school year that she was seriously in need of glasses due to very poor vision in one eye.  Not sure how much this would have affected her math but I do know that her reading struggles ended and she took off after getting those glasses.  And...her math has greatly improved as well.  Since we have a little catch up to do - I have been having her do some lessons with only 1 practice page, some with all the pages, etc.  And, although her personality might scream...give me a book with lots of action and colors....she does MUCH better with the simple layout with a lot of white space found on the worksheets.
  • Pre-K student is using Math-U-See Primer because I had it laying around (and my mathy 3rd grader didn't actually use many pages....he just caught on so quickly).
*Why am I making time for the word problem book instead of whisking him farther ahead in math?  Funny...when I was in school I was in advanced math.  I didn't see why we had to learn harder problems at the same level everyone else was working at.  If we caught on so easily why didn't they just move us up?  In fact, I eventually dropped out of honors math because I was tired of working so hard for a B when I could get an A in the regular math class by doing my assignment during the teachers lesson and rarely have homework.   What a home school moms dream student - eh?  I didn't want to work harder than I had to.  And that was before weighted grades - though I'm not sure that would have changed my attitude much.   But, after having taught math myself for a number of years to my own kids I now understand.  There is so much more to be gained by working outside the box.   Teaching a child to think in a math sort of way (like challenging word problems) will help so much more than just moving ahead to the next grade.   It's sort of like studying ancient history.  It may seem useless to many people.  But, my oldest dd absolutely LOVED ancient history and she has learned to see the underlying themes in other works of lit, etc.   She can wrap her head around the story because she has so much more background than I did.  Math is like that.   Someone can get through math by moving ahead a grade every year...and they can do quite well.  But, if they can learn to wrap their heads around the math...every year will be easier and more fulfilling.  That's my hope anyway. :)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Anna turned 18 years old today!

When someone here has a birthday they get to pick the meal and then we watch an old video of the birthday child when they were younger.  Well, Anna has been a little busy with her college studies so she just let me pick the meal.  

What did we feed our dairy free, tomato free, chocolate, gluten (temp hopefully) free daughter?  Pizza and Ice cream cake

Pizza with a gluten free crust, dairy free spicey white sauce with goat cheese, pepperoni, hamburger, pineapple, and green olives.  Apparently it turned out pretty good.

Ice cream cake with a gluten free cookie crust (that stuck to the pan like concrete after frozen - oh well) and toffuti ice cream.

When it came time to watch the video she couldn't make it to that event.  She had a quiz to study for in the morning and enjoyed parts of the day with her family and friends on the phone - planning to study in the evening - forgetting about the cute video we all got to enjoy :)

She got quite the birthday gift by being able to sleep in an extra hour today - that gift means more to her than anyone else in our house. (OK -yes we got her a gift as well).

And...she turned 18 just in time to vote for one of the most important elections of our lifetime.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Finally...our religion curriculum

We've discovered a religion curriculum to use this year that not only excites me...but it literally has my kids begging for more!  We are doing Family Faith Formation from the Church of St. Paul in Ham Lake, MN.    The kids are grouped so we can work together.

  • The younger half is memorizing 2 Timothy 3:16.
  • The older half is memorizing 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
  • We have weekly reading, lessons, and games.
  • We have worked on the books in God's library (the Bible)
  • We've learned about the Gospel writers and have played a game (more than once) and it is amazing what they are learning and remembering.
  • We've made candle holders.
  • They are encouraged to read (or have read to them) daily from the Bible.
  • And...we still have one more lesson to go for October.
When one of the kids brought the November packet in from the mail they begged me to open it.  (We didn't - must get through October's work first :) )

Here are just a couple things we've done.  Each of the kids makes their own.

They colored the books of the bible and placed them on the appropriate shelf.

Some kids wanted the candles to surround Jesus

Some wanted them to surround Mary.  In the end we put both statues there (but I didn't get a picture of that).

That's it for picture.  You've really got to go to their website!  And...they make it so easy and affordable for large families by the way they charge for their program! 


We've all learned so much already.   It's a little too soon to say but I really expect we'll stick with this program in the years to come.  We've used a variety of other programs but NOTHING compares to this for us! 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sunday, September 16, 2012

An Atypical week (hoping to make it typical)

I'm hoping to make this typical as in fewer interuptions to our schedule.

This week, in addition to 2 doc appts 45 minutes away from here, we also have 2 kids going to the ortho to start the processes of getting braces. My fault for not starting this in the beginning(!) of summer.

I used to print check lists for all the kids. This year I am only printing them for my 3 oldest. I want to hold our master checklist. No more asking me to play because everything was done only to find out everything was NOT done. Most of those instances occured because they had done everything they could alone but failed to mention that there was something they needed hekp on. Kids are color coded (in real life too - j/k). Items in black are groups lessons with me. So far this is working much better. I did leave the 5th graders schedule on here because I give him less freedom in choosing when to get certain subjects done than the 8th grader and the 9th grader. (Hmm...TH and F look pretty much like the rest of the week except TH is History in the afternoon and F is Religion in the afternoon - that didn't come through here correctly.)
Week 2                             Sept. 10 - Sept. 14   Mon.   Tues.   Wed.   Thurs.   Fri.
Early   eye patch   MASS   eye patch   eye patch   eye patch
Prayers/ Calendar 8:00   all   all   all   all   all
Handwriting                     8:15   1 page       1 page   1 page   1 page
  1 page       1 page   1 page   1 page
  1 page       1 page   1 page   1 page
  1 page       1 page   1 page   1 page
Word Roots          8:30   3 words   Review Old       3 words   3 words
Phonics                           8:45   2 pages ETC   2 pages ETC   2 pages ETC   2 pages ETC   2 pages ETC
  LAR pages   LAR pages   LAR pages   LAR pages   LAR pages
  2 pages ETC   2 pages ETC   2 pages ETC   2 pages ETC   2 pages ETC
  page & book   page & book   page & book   page & book   page & book
Grammar                          9:15   1 lesson   1 lesson   1 lesson   1 lesson   1 lesson
  1 lesson       1 lesson   1 lesson   1 lesson
  1 lesson           1 lesson   1 lesson
Snack 10:00                    
Math 10:15   Lesson for E                
  1 lesson   1 lesson   1 lesson   1 lesson   1 lesson
  1 lesson   1 lesson   1 lesson   1 lesson   1 lesson
  1 lesson   1 lesson   1 lesson   1 lesson   1 lesson
  Dot to Dot   Talley Sticks   Dot to Dot   Talley Sticks   Dot to Dot
Recess 11:15       Lunch             
Lunch 12:00       Movie/ Rest Time            
Science / Art 1:00       classes 1-5            
Lit / Rest Time  /               Rel. Assign.             12:45   Percy Jackson     Percy Jackson   Percy Jackson   Percy Jackson
  Treehouse     Treehouse   Treehouse   Treehouse
  Audio Books     Audio Books   Audio Books   Audio Books
  Audio Books     Audio Books   Audio Books   Audio Books
Spelling 1:30   new lists for J & E              
    new list     practice   practice   TEST
  new list     practice   practice   TEST
  new list     practice   practice   TEST
Math Review                    2:00   mult     Game   mult   mult
  add     Game   add   add
  add     Game   add   add
Reading                           2:15   Reading Comp     to Mom   to Michael   to Michael
  Reading Comp     LAR to Mom   LAR to Mom   LAR to Mom
  Seton to Mom     Seton to Mom   Seton to Mom   Seton to Mom
Snack 3:15                  
Maps 3:30         2 pages        
History 3:30             1 lesson w/E    
Religion                            3:30   assignment   assignment   assignment   assignment   1 lesson
  assignment   assignment   assignment   assignment  
  assignment   assignment   assignment   assignment  
  assignment   assignment   assignment   assignment  
Swimming       3:45   Lesson