Tuesday, July 26, 2011

First month of first grade

Well, we've been in first grade for almost a month. I guess it's time to write something about it! The books trickled in slowly, and now we have all but one book. We just slowly added new subjects into our days as books arrived and it seemed to work well. It was a gradual adjustment to what our year will look like.
I can say that, in general, I'm very happy with what I've ordered, and how things are shaping up. Crumpet, on the other hand... Sigh. He is just not an easy kid, and really, he's meant to be unschooled. I'm not able to let go of all control though, so we will continue on this path.
I'm looking forward to having his best friend go to kindergarten next week for 2 reasons:
1) T arrives at our house at 8:15 every morning ready to play, and I have to send him home several times during our school morning until we are done and Crumpet can actually play.
2) Crumpet will see that T spends 7 hours 5 days a week at school, while we spend 2 hours 4 days a week, doing school work. Maybe, just maybe, it will click that what we are doing is not child abuse. Probably not though...
Anyway, here's what we've been up to:
Explode the Code 4: For several subjects, I found the ordering websites difficult to navigate and difficult to figure out Crumpet's level. When this arrived, I got nervous because it looked to be way above Crumpet's abilities. He has done beautifully on the first lesson though, and I think it will work out fine. We are only managing one lesson a week because Crumpet hates worksheets, but really, a lesson a day would be possible for most kids...
All About Spelling: Crumpet HATES this program. It's all about repetition and review, his biggest enemies! Spelling requires repetition and review though. Sigh again. I like the way the program is put together, and the fact that it combines several styles of learning. Unfortunately, we end up skipping a lot of it and he just spells the words for me. So far, he knows them all but I'm sure this will come back to haunt us later.
First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind: I love this program. So easy and such short lessons. Crumpet has memorized the first poem and done the first narration, and we are learning about nouns right now. It's a nice, gentle approach to grammar. I'm not entirely sure if Crumpet is learning any of the grammar, but we'll find out in time...

Handwriting: Handwriting Without Tears shall not be without tears for us. Every day, something gets thrown across the room, or torn to shreds thanks to a certain someone's hatred for handwriting of all types...

Math: I don't know if I mentioned that the charter school wouldn't let me buy the Horizons math program I had chosen. Apparently, Horizons is a religious curriculum. What?? How can math be religious? Anyway, I found a way to buy McRuffy's first grade math through the school, and honestly, I'm relieved. It's what I'm comfortable with, and I know we like it. Also, having seen that half of the Horizons manipulative set consisted of flashcards, I'm pretty sure I would have had trouble selling the program to Crumpet. The McRuffy manipulatives arrived and were greeted with great joy because they look like toys. I think it will be a better fit for us.
By the way, we spent the summer working with the Funnix math computer program, which they were giving away for a little while. We really enjoyed most of it, and it gave us some different ways to think about numbers and addition. We only made it 1/4 of the way through the program before our McRuffy books arrived, so we may return to it later. Our only complaint is that the lessons move really slowly and there is, um, a lot of repetition...

History: This is our last week of our homemade prehistory study. We've read tons of books, seen some movies, and visited the fun Ice Age exhibit at the mall that they set up for kids during the summer.
We will be visiting the dinosaur exhibit at the local museum this week, and creating a timeline of what we learned. We've enjoyed this topic immensely.
Our Story of the World books have arrived. I went WAY overboard and ordered most of Pandia Press' History Odyssey activity books for history, as well as the Story of the World activity books. We can't possibly do it all, but now I have plenty to pick and choose from. I think we are going to love history this year.

Geography: We ordered Beginning Geography, which is a book of worksheets, but they are fun worksheets, and so far Crumpet is enjoying them. I also decided at the last minute to order the Expedition Earth curriculum from Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler. This is a fun curriculum full of the info, activities, and recipes that I tried so hard to gather for ourselves during the last year. I could never keep up, though, and let geography slide. Now, I have it all done for me! We purchased four of the extra books she recommended:
Encyclopedia of World Geography by Usborne (Geography Information)
Living World Encyclopedia by Usborne
A Trip Around the World by Carson-Dellosa (Country Activities)
Another Trip Around the World by Carson-Dellosa (Country Activities)
I LOVE the Trip Around the World books! Great projects and recipes! I wish I'd known about them before! The encyclopedias are also great to have.
Our first craft of the year was a papier mache globe. This was so messy that it challenged even my mellow attitude to craft mess... But Crumpet loved running his hands through the glue and adding paper strips to our globe. The final product is a bit goofy looking, but it was fun to make!
This curriculum has a serious religious component, but it's easy to turn it into a secular program, if you want to. Geography will continue to be one of our favorite subjects.

Social Studies: I ordered our textbook from Houghton Mifflin, but their website is impossible to navigate, and they are absolutely unclear about labeling each of their products. I ended up with the activity book instead of the textbook. When I called, their representative could not tell me what to order to be sure I receive the textbook. So I ordered what I hope is the right thing, and we'll see what arrives in a few weeks...

Science: We are using Nebel's Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding and so far, I'm happy with it. The experiments are simple and fun, and there is lots information and support for teaching the topics. I love that the book does not underestimate the child's ability to learn science. I love that it works in a sequential manner, slowly building on previously taught information. Every topic is connected. And I love the list of extra books at the end of each chapter. The reading is great reinforcement for what we are learning.
One of our first topics was the study of Air. We took the opportunity to go fly a kite! We found a phenomenal place to fly a kit here - I've never had any success before. At Sandy Beach on Oahu, you can sit on the ground, and the wind just whisks the kite up for you. Easy, and so pretty. People had some gorgeous kites! (We had an embarrassing Wonder Woman kite that we found in a geocache.. Very entertaining to watch my husband take a turn with it!)
In other news, we've been hiking
and getting incredibly muddy:

Crumpet has been loving tormenting our little dog visitor.
Crumpet had his first sleepover. His friend, T, spent the night at our house. We set up the tent and the 2 boys and I camped out in the backyard. So fun to see them have so much fun!

And we are renewing Crumpet's passport, just in case... Look at this amazing photo! He looks so grown up!
Wow. I haven't written about school in ages, so there was a lot to catch up on. I'll admit that school days can be incredibly challenging here, but we do have amazing, fun days too. There are moments that I think boarding school is going to be our only option for survival, but most of the time, I love watching this little boy soak up information, and I love being able to spend my days with him.

Monday, July 25, 2011

I love these things... This is a meme that was started over at Making Home.

(Copy and paste to your blog, and put the things you've done in bold. Enjoy!)

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band

4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity

7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain.

9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight

22. Hitch hiked (in the Caribbean - it's different there!)
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29 Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33 Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41 Sung karaoke

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45 Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone
scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60 Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Gotten flowers for no reason
64 Donated blood, platelets, or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66 Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67 Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London

77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79 Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car

83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one

94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a lawsuit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Practicing Gratitude: Gifts 601-625

I've been struggling with gratitude lately. Things have been a little grey. Not black, not miserable, just grey. But I believe that is the most important time to look around and see the good around you. It helps brighten everything up, at least a little. It helps to remember that even when things are going wrong, so much is going right. So I've been trying.
Finally, I've come up with 25 things. Today was a particularly good day, so it's easy to put it down on paper today.
601: Baby cardinals
602: Dog squeak toys
603: Confidantes
604: A prepared hurricane kit
605: Lessons in personal growth
606: Very mild chicken pox
607: Crumpet's loving heart
608: Favorite beaches
609: Fireworks over Pearl Harbor
610: I'm signed up for a photography class in August!
611: Hubby will be home for the next 7 months, recovering from shoulder surgery. No sea duty!
612: We replanted the garden.
613: Our school books are ordered
614: We paid for only a few of the books
615: Comfy beach chairs
616: Thrift store shopping
617: Mango sangria. Bliss...
618: I am having a love affair with my food processor...
619: We have access to grocery stores with shelves full of food.
620: Our little visitor dog finally loves Crumpet as much as Crumpet loves the little dog.
621: Brand new, free sheets.
622: So far, school is fun.
623: I had lunch today with an old college friend that I hadn't seen in 20 years. She lives here on Oahu!
624: Reconnecting with old friends is amazing.
625: Facebook helps people find those old friends.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Homeschooling Affirmation

So, today, we got an e-mail from the woman who was supposed to be Crumpet's teacher at the charter school. (Crumpet will attend 2-4 classes a month at the school, and then be taught at home the rest of the time.) She has decided that she will no longer be teaching at the school. And here is her reason:
She has been working at the school for seven years, watching others homeschool their children while hers attended public school. She has seen how well all of these homeschooled kids do, and how happy they are, and she wants that for her own children. So she will now be homeschooling her own children. I don't think you can get a better recommendation for what we are doing!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Blogging Burnout

Lately, I just haven't felt like blogging. At all. Ever again.. . I'm not sure why, but I'm noticing lots of other people aren't blogging right now either. Maybe it's just summer. A few things definitely contributed to my ennui:
Blogger keeps failing, so I tried to start a Wordpress blog. But I just don't have the energy to learn a whole new system. Then I tried to turn the blog I have into a book using Blurb. It would be an $85 book... I can compress it and make it cost much less, and look better, but again, who feels like spending that much time on the computer in summer?...Fall is going to be utter chaos with appointments and classes. And, there has been a life changing something in our lives that is taking up all of my consciousness. We are ok, and maybe someday I'll be able to talk about it, but for now, wow. Blogging seems... oh, just too much.
I do so love having the blog to look back at though, so hopefully I'll get my act together in time to blog first grade.
We've definitely been busy. But I have no pictures to prove it... Sigh. What a slacker. We've tried lots of art projects. We've spent time with friends, and time outdoors. We've baked and baked and baked. (And gained and gained and gained weight!) Crumpet appears to have chicken pox. The fact that yeast is alive has clicked with him, and he's beginning to boycott bread products. Oh man, I should have known better. He had a pet cockroach for a day, and then it died. And he was devastated. We replanted the garden. We have the most adorable baby cardinals coming to our feeder. We have our sweet little dog friend staying for the summer, and we are all totally in love. The house is filthy. And we do a bit of school most days and it's going well.
So yes, we're still here, but we don't feel like talking about it! ;0
I'm still enjoying reading everyone's blogs though, even if I'm not commenting. Enjoy the rest of your summer!