Chasing Cheerios

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Our "Books for Eliza" Read-A-Thon was a Success!!!

O(7) and E(4) successfully raised $520 through their recent read-a-thon!  O read 42 books, and E read 30 books, and their parents, grandparents, cousin, aunt, and uncle paid them for each book they read.  They raided their piggy banks, and their cousin donated her birthday money.  We are so proud of all 3 of our girls!    All of the money went directly to savingeliza.com.  If you haven't yet, take a few minutes to watch the video.  Then donate as much as you can...every little bit helps!

Monday, April 21, 2014

2nd Grade Curriculum

I've had lots of questions about the curriculum we use over the last few months, and it's much quicker to just write a post for everyone to see rather than answer individually. So, I'm going to briefly tell you about the curriculum we have used for O(7)'s 2nd grade year along with links (when possible).   I hope this will help those of you who are making curriculum decision for the 2014-2015 school year.

English Language Arts

We used First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind (Volumes 1 and 2 combined).  We started this book during O's 1st grade year.  She liked it at first, but didn't like it towards the end.


First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind, Volume 3-  We started Volume 3 in February, and O LOVES it!  She said every lesson is like playing a game.  We have the teacher's edition and workbook.  The lessons are quick, easy, and fun.



Writing with Ease, Volume 2-  O was not enjoying this book by the end.  However she loves Volume 3 which we started in February.





We are reading the Little House on the Prairie chapter books together.  I read 2 pages, O reads 1, and we go back and forth.  She reads very well with these books, and she loves them, but she is intimidated by the length of the books.


O(7) reads books of her choice from the Reading A to Z library.

Both girls record their thoughts in calendar journals weekly.  These journals are calendars that have just enough room to write a sentence or two.  I'd like to write in them daily, but it usually only happens once or twice a week.  The girls tell me one thing about their day, and I record it in the journal for them.

Reading selections from Ambleside Online

Spelling-  O really doesn't like Sequential Spelling lessons, but she has made a lot of progress since starting.   I recently purchased the dvd, so that she can type her answers on the laptop.  Hopefully, she'll like it a little better since she'll be able to do it independently.


Typing

O(7) recently started a typing program,and she LOVES it!




Math

Rightstart Math Level C.  We LOVE Rightstart Math!!!!!   O is learning math extremely effortlessly, and we are all having fun with it!

Challenging Word Problems-  O completes several word problems per week from this workbook.


Handwriting 

O is learning cursive using Handwriting without Tears.  She is completing this workbook independently, and she is doing a great job.



History

Story of the World, Volume 2.  Both girls love SOTW.  We usually read one chapter per week and complete the mapwork from the workbook.  The girls occasionally color the pics from the workbook, but we rarely do the extra projects.  I doubt we'll order the workbook for 3rd grade.





American History-  We are studying American History through reading the American Girl books.  After we read the AG books, we read other books from the same time period.  We also complete craft and cooking projects from each time period.  This has been LOTS of fun, and we all love it.  I know that the girls are learning and loving history when I overhear them having conversations with each other about the Revolutionary War and Civil War.

reading selections from Ambleside Online

Science

REAL Science Odyssey-  We are studying Earth Science this year.  I really liked this program last year, but we are going to try something different for 3rd grade.  It's just not flowing for us this year.  The projects are fun, and the kids are learning, but something about the format (and I'm not really even sure what) just doesn't work for me.


We have been studying pond/lake life through reading several books and studying our lake.  We all loved Among the Pond People and Pond.






weekly nature walks and nature journals

Music

O takes weekly online piano lessons that my mom facilitates.

We listen to Maestro Classics daily.  We all LOVE Maestro classics.













Spanish

Elementary Spanish classes via Discovery Streaming
Professor Pocket cds
Spanish books and other Spanish music cds



Art

I have tons and tons (way too much) of random arts and crafts materials that are available to the girls at all times.  I am amazed on an almost daily basis by their creativity and levels of concentration and independence as they create with these materials (with no outside influence from me).

I have a 3 year subscription for Meet the Masters, but we haven't used this yet...maybe we'll start this summer.

We've studied several specific artists on Fridays with our group, and we read books about specific artist fairly frequently.  We also have several art memory and card games that we play periodically.




Latin

We love Song School Latin, but we don't get to it as often as I would like.



Geography and Culture

We are studying Russia, Ukraine, and Poland via our cultural exchange packages.  We also enjoy geomaps, google earth, our talking globe (the girls love dancing to the national anthems), and our wall map.  We love the Children Just Like Me books.









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I'm working on posts describing our upcoming summer school curriculum, O(7)'s upcoming 3rd grade curriculum, and E(4)'s upcoming 5K curriculum.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Books for Eliza

O(7) and E(4) have been reading books to raise money to help save Eliza for the past month.  They call this "Books for Eliza."  They are sponsored by their grandparents and us, and they earn a specific amount of money for each book they read.  All of the money goes to Eliza.

What can you and your children do to help save Eliza?


Please watch the video and share!!!!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Maestro Classics - Peter and the Wolf

My girls LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Maestro Classics cds!!! (In fact, I can hear Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel starting now!)  Peter and the Wolf is on sale for 5 dollars for this week, so hurry and buy it!  Here's the link...http://peterandwolf.weebly.com/

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Why We Homeschool....

People frequently ask why we homeschool, and the reasons are too numerous to list.  Occasionally, however, there will be a moment with our girls when I think "THIS. This moment is why we do this.  THIS makes it all worth it."  We had one of those moments yesterday...

A few days ago I told the girls that I was starting to plan for next school year, and I asked them what they would like to learn about.  They were both busy crafting and playing, and they shrugged and said "I don't know."   Yesterday, we were getting dressed to go to a play, and I asked them again what they'd like to study next year.  Evidently, they had been thinking about this...

O(7) said "I'd like to learn about my ancestors.  And I'd like to learn about the historical events that happened during my ancestors' lives."  Then I asked E(4) what she would like to learn in kindergarten.  She said "About molecules.  And the insides of plants."    

That was it.  The moment that it all made sense.  It's worth it.  My kids get to have input into their curriculum and study subjects that interest them.  Even more significant is that they (at ages 7 and 4) are able to articulate their interests so well.  They recognize the joy of learning, and they have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.

So, I wanted to document and share this moment.  Many homeschooling days are tough, and I often question my abilities as a teacher to my amazing and brilliant girls, but now I'll have this post that I can come back to and re-read on those tough days :)



Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sorry for the Long Absence

If anyone still reads this blog, I'm sorry for my long absence.  I haven't been able to post any pics via dropshots or the blogger app on my phone, and I'm not that interested in writing posts without pics.  I'm hoping to be back eventually....

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Half-Birthday Cake in a Mug

Celebrating half-birthdays has been a tradition in our family since O(7) was a baby.  The girls love it, and it's a simple way to have fun together as a family.  This year O(7) decided that she wanted to bake cake in mugs for her half bday celebration.  We did this a few years ago, but I couldn't remember what we did.  I asked my mom to find the simplest and quickest way to bake cake in a mug (since I had to work on O's half bday and wouldn't be home until after 7pm).   Luckily, I can always count on my mom!

Here's what we did...we mixed one box of angel food cake mix in a large bowl with a box of brownie mix (my mom said to use cake mix, but I only had brownie mix).  After stirring the 2 mixes together thoroughly, we put 3 tablespoons of the mixture into a mug along with 2 tablespoons of water.  We mixed it together thoroughly and microwaved the mixture for 1 minute. Done!  It really doesn't get much simpler than that!  While the girls and I were mixing up the cake and microwaving it, my mom was making a whipped cream topping.  It was delicious!!!

Here is a picture of the cake before we added the topping.  It doesn't look very pretty, but it tasted great!




Adding the topping...



Here's the cake after O(7) added her 7 and a half hot pink candles :)



After singing "Happy Half-Birthday" to O and my mom (they share a birthday), we ate the delicious cake.  We had so much fun, and it was so simple...a great snack and activity for movie night or a sleepover party, too!


Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Year of Family Fun

While traumatic, our family's experience with Elliott's brain tumor and subsequent craniotomy during the Winter/Spring of 2012 was a reminder that nothing is more important to us than spending time (and having fun) as a family.  With that in mind we decided to give our girls a year's worth of trips and experiences for Christmas last year.  This was a HUGE hit with our girls (and us!), so we did it again this Christmas.

I've been working in a list of things to do and places to go for months, and after the girls went to bed on Christmas Eve, I quickly made these certificates.  Some of the certificates were paired with books (a castles book with the Medieval Times certificate and an art book with the Van Gogh certificate).

These trips will last throughout the entire year with the last trip being to Great Wolf Lodge during December of 2014 (we went this December and had a fantastic time being there during the Christmas season).  Both girls were thrilled with these certificates for our upcoming year of fun trips and experiences, and we can't wait to get started with our first trip next week!!!


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Melted Crayon Ornaments

Several friends told me about this melted crayon ornament idea, and it sounded simple and fun enough to try!

First, we shaved crayons (using a pencil sharpener for small shavings and a small knife for larger pieces).  We put the crayon shavings into clear glass ornaments.

Then we heated the shavings within the ornaments using a hair dryer (the ornaments are too hot to hold, so they are hanging from the snowman's hat).
This was a simple and fun activity, and the ornaments are beautiful!


 
 
 
 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Santa!

Our girls are so excited and proud that their Grandpa is one of Santa's helpers!


 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Our Ballerina



O(7) was a Land of the Sweets Candy Cane Attendant in a recent performance of the Nutcracker Ballet.  She was only onstage for about 30 seconds, but it was a great experience and she loved it.

Both of our girls LOVE The Nutcracker Ballet, and several of their advent activities/gifts have revolved around this ballet.  We frequently read our Nutcracker books, and they have loved watching the dvd recently.  They also love the Dover Nutcracker coloring books.







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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Our Gingerbread House

The girls and I are continuing our Christmas tradition of opening a Christmas book and doing a Christmas activity as our countdown to Christmas.  I'm not nearly as organized with this as I was last year, but it's just as much fun when it's thrown together :)

About a week ago, we built and decorated our gingerbread cottage.  It's a Christmas miracle that it didn't fall down!  We propped it up with magnatiles until the icing dried.  It looks a little rough, but we had fun making it and that's all that matters to us!






We love the book that always goes along with our gingerbread cottage activity, Cookie Count.




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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Melissa and Doug Unit Blocks...50% Off!!!!



Melissa and Doug Unit Blocks are 50% off today at Amazon!  These are some of the BEST toys ever, and every child should have a set!!!  We've had our blocks for about 6 years, and both girls still LOVE them.  I'm tempted to buy another set since this is such a great deal :)

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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Cash Register for Kids

Our girls and all of their friends LOVE this cash register!  My dad gave the girls this cash register for Christmas 2 years ago, and it is one of the most played with toys that they have.  Kids of all ages (from 1 to about 10 years old) seem to just gravitate towards this cash register  when they come over to play.


We use the cash register in our school room for math.  It has several built in games that are great for learning to identify coins and to practice addition and subtraction.


Both of our girls had movie night sleepover parties for their birthdays this year, and we used this cash register in the concession stands.  Setting up the concession stands and "selling" the treats was their favorite part of both parties.   Being able to use the cash register was a pretty big deal, and most of the kids wanted a chance to run the concession stand.  Fun times!


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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

It's a Good Thing She's Homeschooled!!!

It's a good thing that my sweet O(7) is homeschooled because she spends much of her school day dancing, spinning, twirling, cartwheeling, back bending, skipping, scootering, climbing, and jumping!


I'm so happy for her that she has the freedom to move as she learns.  She loves to dance as she recites poetry, and she'll often choreograph dances to go along with specific poems.


As a School Psychologist, I spend a lot of time screening kids for ADHD, so while I'm 100% sure O doesn't have ADHD, it wouldn't surprise me if she were referred for an evaluation if she were in typical school.  (Although she's pretty much a ruler follower, so it's likely she would sit still and quietly throughout the day if she were in a typical school).
So, there's another reason why we homeschool!  "Why?" is a frequently asked question, and the reasons are numerous!!!