Sunday, August 17, 2014

Back to School-School!

So a nationally-recognized school opened up K-4 here, right by us!! Bug got in off the waiting list 2 days before they started!! So she is now in 3rd grade at a school. I miss her during the day, but the stuff they are doing?? I would be very hard-pressed to recreate at home. They have Mandarin every day, Kenpo 3x/week and regular PE the other 2 days, Humanities, Performing & Visual Arts, Music, Engineering & Technology (in addition to Math & Science), a cool class called Connections.... so many amazing things to learn and do. It's a challenging school, but I think as long as it's interesting-challenging, Bug will have a blast. Her first week was a success. She made friends and had fun. YAY! :)

Looking ahead, Lulu will be in Kinder there next year, so she has entered a preschool program 3 mornings a week. She is in love with it and wants to go every day. :)

So I won't be posting much on this blog... but I'll leave it here for now. :)  Thanks for reading!

Monday, April 14, 2014

School Year = DONE ???

We are on our little break between sessions, and I just realized something.... Bug is totally done with 2nd grade!!!!!!!!! We are finished with our school year, basically. Huh.

And 3rd grade is more involved than 2nd... right? Social studies and Science get bumped up a notch. Things get more in-depth..... So I am spending much time researching curriculum to add into the mix. And figuring out how to proceed from here. :) With my third grader. !!! It's a little daunting. I want to make sure we don't miss anything. Pre-K through 2nd grade is so simple and fun.  Learning about the states, our community, the basics of science, reading lots of interesting books, adding/subtracting/multiplying, spelling, grammar (nouns/verbs/etc).... but now, things are about to get real. :)

Also, the tiny one will be starting K4 (4 yr old Kindergarten) when we resume...

So we are in essence about to start a new school year.  Yikes!!

This will be a big planning week around here. :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Session 2

Wow! This year is zooming by already!!! We are finishing up our second session over the next week or so.  We took a mini-break when Bug's friends were on spring break so we are going to go through Wednesday next week and just take a nice long weekend up in Phoenix.

Bug is loving her 3rd grade Language Arts books - Winning with Writing, Growing with Grammar, and Soaring with Spelling.  I am also a fan because they are about 99% self-guided. She reads the lesson and then does the work. I grade it, we discuss any issues, and that's that.

She is almost done with her 2nd grade Horizons Math book.  We will start the 3rd grade book during Session 3.  I am very impressed with this program!! Bug has learned way more than I would have expected for 2nd grade, and we are both excited to see what 3rd grade brings. :)

We also started a reading program with chapter books. Bug's goal is 50 books and then there will be a prize of some sort... no idea what yet :) I guess I should figure that out!! For each book, she writes a few sentences about it, or draws a picture -- I am using the Summer Reading Program we did last summer because I like the little banners and reward cards.

And, our big science project was --- a butterfly garden!!!  Bug wrote a report about the different stages after they were all released.  It was a fun hands-on adventure for a few weeks. :)  Here are a ton (probably way too many!) pictures of how it all went down.

Up next -- Rootvue farm, owl pellets, and Aquafarm. :)  We also joined the Desert Museum, so we will take some educational trips there.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Session 1

We are wrapping up our first 6-week session of the year.  It went really well. I love the 6-week time frame.  It's just long enough to really get some stuff done, and not so long that we got burned out.

During Session 1, we finished:

Growing with Grammar Level 1 - we will jump to level 3 for Session 2.*
All About Spelling Level 1 - we will jump to level 3* of a new program, called  Soaring with Spelling and Vocab.
Road Trip USA - we finished up the Midwest. We have now done the West, Southwest, and Midwest of the USA.  We are going to take a break before we start the East coast, and really nail down the few capitals that aren't sticking and spend some time exploring our neck of the woods and really learning more about the whole area.
Houghton Mifflin - Poetry unit.  We are going to switch to level 3* of Winning with Writing -- combined with the grammar and spelling/vocab, this should be a great Language Arts combo.

During Session 2, we will:

Do the above LA programs
Start Five in a Row -- I'm so excited about this one! I have heard great things, and I love that we can all do it together.  Lulu is now almost 4 (end of March) so she is participating more in school. She also loves to listen to books (finally! this is an energetic kid :) ) -- I think the timing is right for FiaR :)
Finish the letter of the week program for Lulu
Start planting our garden in the backyard - veggies!
Start using our Aqua farm fish tank we got for Christmas

We are loving Horizons Math, and should finish up the 2nd grade book during this next session.

*-the level 3 jumps above are because those programs said to start out with level 1.  So, we did.  And while it was good stuff, it was really easy, nothing new for Buggy.  After looking through the scope and sequence of the Level 2 programs, I chose to jump her up to #3. :)

This week, we are doing Math and a unit about the Olympics :) Then off on another road trip!!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Incentives & Rewards

Sooo... yeah.  I used to have a hard time with the whole behavioral chart thing they do in classrooms. I just don't like labeling behavior or having kids get put into the "good" and "bad" roles. I remember in school, those labels stuck.  I was a goody two shoes, except for the excessive talking :), and even when I would do something wrong in later years, teachers would be kind to me about it... I had been labeled "good" and so any acting out was seen as an anomaly.  Likewise, the "bad" kids -- the ones who ate glue in 1st grade or came to school in those early years with a chip on their shoulder -- were labeled as such and their actions were not viewed in a favorable light.  Even as a child, I didn't think that seemed fair.

Fast forward a few years (or um... decades!) and my daughter is in school.  And I could see why the teachers had to implement some sort of behavioral system. 30 kids + lots of testing + standards that must be met + a few behavioral issues in each classroom = a need for classroom management. I totally understand.  Thankfully, Bug's teachers were fantastic at implementing their systems in a fair and kind way.  They helped the kids learn which behaviors were acceptable and which weren't.  They gave them a chance to fix their behavior. They talked them through remedies. I actually learned a lot from the way they handled these situations.

And now, at home... yeah. I have actually started a reward system for the girls.  Each week, if they both have a good attitude and do their very best at school, they will get something special on Friday. And yes, I am putting smiley faces or frowning faces up on the dry erase board to keep track of the great and not-so-great moments. I'm buying into the whole enchilada.  This week, it's a trip to the frozen yogurt shop down the street.  I'm rationalizing it to myself that after a week of hard work, everyone deserves something special right? :) When they get older and have jobs, it will probably be happy hour.  But for now, yogurt and extra long recess or a trip to the zoo will suffice.  And I promise to not use the words "good" or "bad" through this process. :)

Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 9, 2014


Happy New Year!!!

We started school again yesterday after a nice looooong winter break and a 9-day trek to California.  Surprisingly, we dove back in with minimal drama. :)

After spending some time pondering our progress thus far and how I want to proceed, I decided on something a little different for 2014.  We are going to do 6-week sessions with 1-week breaks in between.  We will do this up until Thanksgiving (with the last two sessions being 5 weeks instead), and then take a break until January.

I also feel like we have gotten over the initial homeschooling humps of finding the right curriculum, figuring out what daily rhythm works best, and settling into our routine.  So now I want to get down to one of the main reasons I wanted to homeschool my kids --- exploring the world.  I want them to see everything as a learning opportunity, and to be excited by finding new things.  Lulu is almost 4 now and on board with both of those ideas.  Our trip to CA over break was a great starting point for 2014 and this endeavor.  We talked about all we had learned while studying California, and got to see some of the landmarks too.  Both girls had a blast :)

Here is what we are doing for Session 1:

Language Arts - finishing up All About Spelling Level 1 and starting Level 2; continuing with the Houghton Mifflin books (poetry and nature walk themes this session); and finishing up Growing With Grammar Level 1

Math - continuing with Horizons 2nd Grade book

Social Studies - Midwest states

Science - Rocks & Minerals around the USA / Plants

Extras - daily piano practice (Bug started lessons over the holidays), Van Gogh, and Handel -- and continuing with the weekly PE classes and monthly Science Club --- I also got a typing program and we received a harmonica lesson book, so those things may enter the rotation as well.

Lulu will be continuing with her Letter of the Week program for the first two sessions, and then will start a K4 curriculum in April.

That's it here! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season :)