Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tweaking the Curriculum

One of my favorite things about homeschooling is that if something is not working we can change it! (and no one will make fun of my child!) This is exactly what we are doing starting next week.

I have been struggling with a spelling curriculum I like. I have gone back to Spelling Power twice and after the melt down Nico had last week on a recall test I decided it was not working. I was at a friend's house and she had out All About Spelling (here). I had been looking at this program and All About Reading (here). I was on the fence about it. I think I felt this was was because when I was in school I was taught a list of words on Monday and had a test on Friday. My 19 year old son had the same system when he was in grade school. I was so stuck in the 'traditional' method that I couldn't wrap my brain around something else. Nico could remember a list of spelling words given in a week, but when I went back to read his regular writing I was appalled at all the mispelled words. Just recently I have been having him writing longer narrations where he is thinking on his own, not copy work.

I skimmed through her book quickly and she offered me her Level 1 book. I thought to myself, "Well, we won't need level one, but okay." She proceeded to tell me about it and how much she actually learned from it. So I went ahead and brought it home. I read through it and was impressed with what I saw. She loaned me her cards for Level 1 and we started on it last week. Nico likes the one on one interaction and we were both surprised to actually 'realize' the different sounds the letters make. I am a pretty good speller, but don't really know the 'rules'. I think it is safe to say we are going to continue with Level 1 and really LEARN how to spell. Again, I love that we can go back to square one and start all over again. If he were in traditional school, he would just be struggling and failing on spelling.

I have also been having a hard time with Luca and his letters. I keep reading through my notes when Nico was that age and Luca seems to be on track with where Nico was, but I feel like I am missing something with Luca. I went ahead and bought All About Reading. We are going to combine this with ABCMouse (here). He loves computer based learning, but I hate having him with his face in front of the computer. I love the one on one time with him. Luca loves books and we love reading books snuggled on the futon in our room. I am just looking for a little more recall for Luca's part.

Another change, or more like an addition is the book, "Using Google Earth: Bring the World into Your Classroom" (here) by Shell Education. Nico has always enjoyed geography, traveling, and watching National Geographic on TV. Mike has gotten him really interested in Google Earth. I will often find Nico on Mike's computer with Google Earth pulled up. He is always searching for something. We will be finishing up Beautiful Feet Geography through Literature, but we are going to add Google Earth to our schedule. Level 1-2 may be a little simple for him, but it is a great starting point.

I can't believe our school year is quickly approaching the end. I feel like we have so much left to complete. I have to remind myself that we can always continue through the summer if we want and if we don't than we can just pick up right where we left off. There are so many joys to homeschooling!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

January Wrap Up and Into February

I can't believe the month of January is over already. I had plans to go like gang busters after having all the time off with Thanksgiving and Christmas. My 19 year old son made alterations to that plan. He ended up in the hospital for a week in ICU. I, of course, spent my time there, and the two little ones didn't get much accomplished in the way of schooling. Nico did go with me one day to the hospital and brought a couple of lessons with him.

With all that, we did keep up a pretty good pace otherwise and have been making great strides. Luca is doing better and sitting (well standing, hopping up and down, wiggling, etc) and doing his lessons. I have to do his in short bursts as he easily gets bored or tired of the same subject. He is doing better at numbers and is now pointing out numbers when he sees them at the store and on the road. We started doing a letter a week. At first it seemed he wasn't catching on, but he is getting the hang of it now! He loves computer based learning, so often he gets to play learning games on the computer.
Look at that face!

Nico has been loving science! We finished chemistry and are moving onto Physics. Lesson One - Newton's First Law of Physics. Nico threw the ball with a string attached to it to see the ball stop by having the opposite force acting on it.
Nico's favorite chemistry experiment was making polymers! He still has the polymer although he left it out and it solidified. Here is what we used. It was the best polymer we ever made!
We have moved on in MUS to Delta. Nico is now on division. He absolutely loves it. We started watching the video and he already had the worksheet finished. Of course, this is basic division...just wait until the numbers get bigger. I know he will do fine. Math is one of his favorite subjects although he may say differently. He flies through it.

Into February Nico has spent 3 hours one day working on his Valentine box. He created Plants Vs. Zombies. As a kid for me, Valentine's Day was always so much fun. We decorated boxes for school and won prizes for best box. We didn't just decorate with hearts and stuff either...we went all out. My sister had a guitar one year, I had a record player, complete with record and parts from a player attached to the box. I have loved carrying this tradition over with the boys.

A little game of Angry Birds?

We are enjoying our days and are ready for spring and park days to get here!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Update of Organization Challenge

Nico and I went to Target and bought a shelf system for his room. He has several wheeled plastic storage containers that he wants to give his brother. He wants to make his room look more 'grown up'. We are also trying to color coordinate his things a little better. He has decided on a hot rod theme for his room. Luca doesn't want the Transformers so all the blankets, sheets, and stuffed pillows are going up for sale. The money made will buy some new things for Nico's room. I also pulled out several items to sell such as the rails for the bed, left handed ball gloves, and an Easter tie and suspender's I bought for Brian when he was little (19 years old now) and the package has NEVER BEEN OPENED! What!!!???

I started on the closet last week and have it organized and cleaned up for Nico. All the clothes are back in the hanger storage, the Transformer pinata that was there for years is in the wood furnace. I have a few hooks to put up for his back packs, but I think the closet is done for now.

looking into the closet. This corner has been purged and straightened.

The tubs are full of clothes for him to grow into and Luca to grow into. We managed to clean the shelves up to get him some extra storage for items as well.

The last of the three bookshelves that were in his closet. This one is staying.

Nico worked on cleaning up the LEGOS scattered on his floor. He had to constantly be reminded that he was cleaning up, not building. :-)

This week we are going to hit the room hard collecting the toys and other items to put on Craigslist to sell. We will rearrange his furniture and put together the shelf unit and figure out what goes where. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Challenge: I'm an Organizing Junkie

 Taking the Challenge! Clean and organize a room in 29 days!

My sister led me to the website here and I thought it would be great to join the challenge. You pick one room in your house to organize and get rid of the junk. In our house, every room can use some reorganization and decluttering. However, we decided to start with my son Nico's room. He is 10 years old. He is generally a pretty neat and organized kid, except when it comes to his LEGOS. They are everywhere. His closet has also gotten out of control as he likes to stuff everything in there to get it out of the room. Now I have to say Nico has an exceptionally large room for such a small boy.
NOTE: The large amount of LEGOS on the floor, table, bins, other tables, etc.

Another view. He does have storage, but if you look closely they are empty. The side table got moved from the side of the bed and has never returned.

He has a gymnastics mat in his room so he can practice his Hip Hop moves and tumbling. Yes, his room is that big. I bought the table before Christmas thinking he could build with his LEGOS on it, but it seems to be another junk collector.

Nico has a very large closet. This is looking in at the messiest part. Behind the door are several storage containers I have in there with clothes he has outgrown (to be handed down to little brother) and clothes for him to grow into. To the right is a very large bookshelf. At one time we had three bookshelves in here...yep...very large. 
 Along with reorganizing his room we want to redecorate. Nico has been asking me to paint the walls and change from the Transformer theme to Hot Rods. Our first priority is getting it reorganized. Then we will move onto redecorating.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Updating this Week

We have been very busy catching up from our week off with my oldest son being in the hospital. I have lots of pictures to post and updates to give.