Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pattern Blocks, not just for Math

Kids are great. They're so creative and resourceful. They think to do things I never would. For better and for worse sometimes, this idea being one of the former. I walked into the room they were playing in and just had to take pictures to preserve this. I recently bought some used wooden pattern blocks, but boxed them up in anticipation of our move. I can't wait to see what fun they'll make of them. These are some old plastic ones we've had for years.

Argh, matey! Ships ahoy! Or some such other pirate talk, lol!

You'll notice the very bottom of my Care Bears pajama pants in this one.

This isn't the first time they've gotten creative with pattern blocks. In fact the first time I remember well because I also had to run for the camera and snap pics. It was a good four years ago.

This was made by my daughter, who would have been six at the time.

This by my son, who would have been four. So long ago that seems now! Really, seriously pattern blocks are not just for Math. :)

History for 2010/2011

I'm going to babble on some more about my Rainbow Resource wish list for next school year. Once we get moved and settled I plan to order what I can of it. Hopefully all of it! I'm thinking it would be nice to write out some reviews for the curricula, maybe something along the lines of 2 weeks, 6 months, and again at 9 months of use, to see how we feel about the materials over time.

History Odyssey Ancients Level 1
The Usborne Internet Linked Encyclopedia of World History
The Usborne Internet Linked Encyclopedia of the Ancient World
World/ U.S. Map Pack-Laminated (40" x 28")
History Pockets- Ancient Civilizations 
(We already have the History Pockets, but I thought I'd link them because they go with History Odyssey!)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Not homeschool related- but my Little one is too cute!!!!!!!!!!!

Today I was talking with my mom on the phone, cutting up a block of cheese into slices. Little One had already came and nabbed a piece and ran off again. Suddenly she starts wailing and I run to see what's up. She was under the table with our oldest cat, Shea, crying like she was hurt. Now Little One is mostly a little soldier. She doesn't cry a whole lot over bumps and bruises, falls and such. My first thought was, of course, Shea scratched her. I plucked her out from under the table and looked her over, still crying, tears even. I don't see any marks. I asked her if the cat scratched her, she said no, did you hit your head, no, did Shea scare you, no, did the cat try to eat your cheese, no. I picked her up, she cried for a bit, then settled in. After I got off the phone I questioned her again. Same questions, same answers. I couldn't think of what must have upset her. Later in the evening we were sitting on the couch and Shea came over wanting petted. Little One looked at her grumpily and said, "Shea, no!" I told Little One that I thought Shea was trying to make up to her. She smiled and petted the cat. Then I asked the same questions again. All answered no. It popped in my head, so I asked, "Did Shea lick your cheese?" Little One answered with head nodding vigorously yes, "Um, cat, uh, Shea, lick cheese." Followed by her turning to Shea, tears welling up in her eyes, "Shea, no lick cheese!" Then she excitedly went on about the cat licking her cheese to me, then her daddy, lol. This was all really just too cute. Here's a pic of Little One and the perpetrating cat (Never mind the evidence of my sewing, I swear it doesn't live there! And yes, there are two machines, both somewhat broken. One zigzag stitches only, one straight stitches only.)-

Something for the Little One too :)

I plan to buy the big kids some Kumon Math workbooks to supplement Singapore Math. I decided to poke around on the Kumon workbooks website and let me tell you what, I'm sold, lol. They have the cutest, colorful little workbooks for Pre-K. Also workbooks for kids as young as two. Now I bet I know what you're thinking. Two is too young! Tell that to my little two year old toddler. She is very into doing what big brother and sister are doing, including school. She loves books, paper, art supplies, etc. I am pretty sure she will love these adorable little workbooks. I figure if I'm wrong, and she isn't in to them, they'll be there for later when she is. Make no mistake these are not for me, to get her ready for school, these will be for her to do if, how, and as she pleases! There is a book each for coloring, easy mazes, beginning cutting, folding, and more.  They really are too cute!

And it just so happens Rainbow Resource carries them. Isn't that just too convenient, now I just have to click, click, click to add them to my ever growing wish list. By now some people might think I must be rolling in the money. Not so. I just happen to be lucky this year with a bit of a windfall, likely never to happen again in my lifetime. I really want to take advantage of the opportunity to expand our homeschool supplies while I can. Seeing as we're under contract for our first house, I imagine times will be quite tight in the future as we try to get it paid off. Here's my Wish List for the little one, please note some of these things are not recommended for children under three, I know my child well and she will be under direct supervision the entire time she is playing with these items-

Before Five in a Row
Bright & Beyond Age 2
52 Magnetic Letters
Magnetic Dry Erase Board 18" x 24"
Baby Bears Balance Set
Political Earth 12" soft pillow model 
Kumon First Steps, Let's Color! 
Kumon First Steps, Let's Cut Paper! 
Kumon First Steps, Let's Fold!
Kumon First Steps, Let's Sticker & Paste!
Kumon My Book of Coloring 
Kumon My Book of Coloring At the Zoo 
Kumon My Book of Easy Mazes 
Kumon My First Book of Tracing 

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Now for Language Arts Wish List for 2010/2011!

I actually have spent a lot of time kicking ideas around for LA, who'd have thought it? I settled on what I did because the approaches are gentle, the time will be spent together rather than assigning a workbook page and me walking away. There's nothing wrong with that, of course. Its what we've done in the past. I felt it was time to switch things up a bit and upon previewing some of the materials and giving a couple lessons practice runs I was surprised how much the kids enjoyed it. It was nice to keep things light and fun and we shared some giggles in the process, which is always nice! Each of these is meant for short, 15-20 minute lessons and we'll alternate between them as it feels right through the week.

Writing With Ease Text for Levels 1-4
This is a non-consumable text for teaching beginning writing skills meant to last four years. There are separate consumable workbooks, with everything completely laid out, including copywork already selected for you. These would be a time saver, but at nearly $30 and needing to buy one each year, and having two students, I really can't afford them. I'll be selecting my own copywork. I will also be able to reuse this once my toddler is of an age to enjoy it. I like that the book introduces quite a bit of literature. I plan to borrow the corresponding books from the library just in case the interest to read it is sparked by the narrations.
Simply Grammar
This non-consumable book is a revised and expanded version of First Grammar Lessons by Charlotte Mason meant to be a mostly oral approach to learning Grammar. Again we'll sit and work through this together, hopefully with some childish comedy and giggling involved.
Daily Grams Grade 4
This is a workbook without answers, though there is a version sold with answers as well. There are 180 brief daily lessons for review of Grammar. I want this mostly for the sentence combining practice, though we may use other bits of it as well. This is a consumable workbook, but I plan to buy only one and do the bits of it we choose orally or on the whiteboard. So no consumption here! And again, I'll be able to reuse with the little one.
AVKO Sequential Spelling
Another non-consumable. I'll be honest. I read the preview on the website and was a bit turned off from the author's conversation at the intro to the book. I'm not really sure what exactly about it rubbed me the wrong way, but it did. However I really like the lessons and the approach. So while it is possible I might not want to invite the author over for dinner, I appreciate his work. This will really be the first time doing any 'formal' spelling. At eight and ten they both spell surprisingly well. I do think they'll benefit from the lessons. Words are taught by word families. The lessons are designed to be short and sweet, say 15 minutes a day. I think the kids may even enjoy this. We shall see!

Friday, March 26, 2010

2010/2011 Wish List continued...

On with the Science then!

Alnico Science Kit
This is a set of three magnets, a tube with iron fillings, and a tube with small steel shapes. I imagine the magnets will prove useful with many activities.
World of Microscope Kid Kit This is a cheap microscope so I'm hoping for the best! It does come with an Usborne book, The World of the Microscope. I'm generally impressed with Usborne books. If I can I'll likely spring for a more expensive model, but I won't count on it.
Big Screen Microscope Prepared Slides These have 48 specimens, including goldfish scale, bamboo shoot, onion rind, hemp fiber, fern spore, and tulip pollen. Some of these sound decidedly grosser than others and I'm not sure how I feel about the animal hairs and bug slides. Definitely doesn't sound animal friendly!
Fossil in a Bag, 12 fossils
Mineral Science Kit, 15 specimens
Rock Science Kit, 15 specimens
R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey: Earth and Space Level 1 This is supposed to have a very hands-on approach to science, compatible with classical home education.
My Pals Are Here Science 5/6, Cycles, Energy, Interactions, and Systems. I'm expecting these will last for two school years. We'll see! The textbooks look very colorful with beautiful, eye capturing photos and little text. The activity books contain questions and experiments. I'm betting the kids will really enjoy this!
Color Atlas of Human Anatomy
The bucket and platform scales will also come in handy for Science, not just Math I think.

Planning for school year 2010/2011

I've been having fun researching curricula and materials with next year's homeschool adventure in mind. If enrolled in public school my eldest dd would be in fifth grade and my son in third grade for the 2010/2011 school year. I'll admit to being eclectic with tendencies towards relaxed, child led in as far as I pay close attention towards their interests, likes, dislikes, and am quite willing to ditch what isn't working, and a fair amount of the curricula I'm interested in happens to be of interest to some classical homeschoolers, though I couldn't possibly be. I'm not into Latin (yet! lol) and while I find the Trivium interesting and it makes sense I don't fret over fitting our experiences into that box.

 I've ordered from Rainbow Resource in the past and plan to again. In fact, I've spent countless hours as of late 'perfecting' my Wish List! While nursing the little one and in the wee hours of the night while everyone else in the house is sleeping (I would say and quiet, but my partner often snores) I've been clicking away, researching and reading reviews. Here's what I've come up with so far-

Singapore Math 3A/3B - We'll use this level for both children.
Kumon workbooks - To supplement Math,  all of the grades 3 & 4 workbooks
2-colored plastic counters, 100
angle ruler
Baby Bears Balance Set - I reckon we'll all have fun with this, especially the toddler
Deluxe Fraction Circles
Fraction Tower Cube Equivalency Set
Hexagram Metric Weights, set of 54
Linking Metric Cubes
Platform Scale
SAFE-T School Kit 
View-Thru Base Ten Blocks Starter Set
View-Thru Geometric Solids, 14 pieces

Of course we'll see if our purse strings will be able to loosen enough to make this Wish List ought but fantasy! In the past we've not spent quite so much, and in the future I'm prepared to be a bit more thrifty. I think we can afford to spend a bit more this year and want to do so. Most everything I've bought we'll be able to reuse for my youngest and while we do have some manipulatives and supplemental items it would be useful and fun to have more. I'll be back to post more as I have time! I think I'll focus on my Science choices next...