Friday, September 19, 2014

FIAR: Week 2: Grandfather's Journey and what Madison is up to this year

Like last week, we did a literature unit study, Five in a Row. Again, I loved it. We did not do all I had planned, life happened and I thought I could fit more in the week than I could with some other things going on. I also thought I could hold the boys attention a bit longer than I could, being how this week they didn't love the actual book quite as much as Ping- but they still liked it- Ping was just one of their favorites. I am really surprised at how much they are learning and retaining. Some things that I expect to be over their head, they get, while things I expect to come easy, are a challenge, and both boys surprise me with what they are good at, each at different things, but often not what I expect. I used Youtube like crazy this week! I don't know what I would do without the internet, but I know people homeschooled successfully before it existed, so I guess I could. 

So this was my basic plan for the week:
Day 1
Learn about Japan/continents- use cloth map, japan book, nat geo site, virtual village video,
look up Japan in atlas. Color old man picture, and discuss/color printout of japan items. 
Days in a week/month - using cereal on a calendar
Birds- animal classification game, bird book, video of bird building a nest
Paint cherry blossoms

Day 2
Landforms- watch video, use cards to color and place on map
Pollution (bucket experiement, video on pollution and birds)
Make scrolls with toilet paper roll

Day 3
Origami - book and craft
Woodblock printing
Japanese food- book, maybe cook

Day 4
Family Tree 
Make japanese food
Go to asian food market?

And this is what we actually did with reasons why:
1. Learned about Japan- use cloth map, Japan book, nat geo site, virtual village video,
look up Japan in atlas. 
3. Days in a week/month - using cereal on a calendar made 3 weeks of days because Grandfather didn't see land for 3 weeks. 
4. Learneda about Animal Classification- played  two animal classification games, they liked this one best, read 2 bird books, video of bird building a nest- because Grandfather kept song birds to remind him of Japan.
5. Paint cherry blossoms - kind of, the boys painted a line or two and gave up, madison and I tried
6. Learned about Pollution in Japan and the world, read recycling book and decided to go get a container for ourselves today.
7. Bucket experiment to demonstrate just picking out the trash didn't clean the yucky water.
8. Origami - looked at book and attempted to create our own. This was VERY hard and we gave up quickly!
9. Looked at Japanese food book, discussed their food and culture more.
10. Did a Family tree worksheet and learned what generations are, since the grandson was telling the story.
12. Read about steamships and watched videos of real ones
13. Watched minecraft video on how to build a steamship
14. Learned about electricity using this video- after the steamship lesson, Tyler asked "Can you teach me how electricty works?" :)
15. Learned about the continents  using a few different videos and maps,  which one we live, also were Japan and China are. Discussed the difference between counties and continents.
16. Landforms- watched a few videos, use cards to color- they liked this video best 
17. 3 days we also did Math-u-see, Handwriting, and Life Skills.
18. Tyler is currently building a steamship on Minecraft right now and doing a pretty great job!

As you can see, we did plenty, they learned a lot, and we didn't even do everything I wanted to get done! We may have Japanese for dinner tonight!

Here is my Pinterest board for this row with a lot of the links and inspiration for our week. 

And here is Madison in her new workspace in the garage. If you don't know, we did a total makeover on this room. It looks awesome compared to what it was. I am so happy with how it turned out and we actually enjoy being in this room now. 

Madison is doing a lot this year. On Monday's we have co-op, where she is taking Sewing, the Recorder, and Storytelling. On Wednesdays, she is going to One Day Academy, taking Art - Drawing skills, Piano, Theater (they are doing The Princess and the Pauper this semester) and Math. I may or may not leave her in Math, as this class seems to be more work on me than it is on her. On Fridays we usually have a playdate or field trip. Tuesdays and Thursdays she has all subjects to do at home and those are busy days, along with Tumbling/trampoline class on Thursdays. The boys also have Karate on Wednesdays. She is also wanting to join 4H, but I just don't know how we can fit anything else our schedule! She is being pretty difficult until the past 2 days, it's hard getting back into the swing of things after a summer break and learning new curriculum. But I think we may have just settled into a routine this week and be on the mend, the first two weeks had me contemplating sending her to boarding school. The older they get, the more time consuming school work is and she is used to having a lot more free time than she does this year. My expectations are a lot greater this year, and may need some tweaking. For other HS moms- her curriculum is:

Learning Language Arts Through Literature - purple book/5th grade (which is really challenging her)
Science Shepherd- online Christian program with workbook (which we are finding very boring)
CTC Math online and her One Day math class (may drop the ODA class since I added CTC math and love it)
Cursive Handwriting 
US Geography- various sources including McGraw Hill work book
US History- using Abeka and The Story of Us, with various other resources including real books, 
Co-op- sewing, storytelling, Recorder
One Day Academy- Art, Piano, Theater, Math
Trampoline/tumbling on Thursdays

We are so busy, I really don't know when I'm going to have time to socialize the kids! ;)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Five in a Row: Thoughts on week 1

Well, mostly a week. Only because we are only doing 3-4 in a row instead of 5 with FIAR. Because we have co-op on Mondays and Friday is playgroup/field trip day and schooling a 5th grader at the same time, I am taking it easy with the boys. So in my last blog post, I posted what we did day 1 and what the next two day's plans were. Now that we are done with those last 2 days, thought I would update with what we actually did and what we thought of everything.

We all really love FIAR. I love it so much that I wish I had done it with Madison. And I thought about Beyond Five in a Row, their curriculum for older kids, however we have already invested a lot in this years curriculum. While doing todays lessons with the boys, Madison had her headphones on doing some of her work. I was actually wishing she was in on what we were learning because it was interesting and I thought she would like it as well, so I had her stop her work.

One thing that I like about FIAR is that you can make it as simple or as complex as you would like. They suggest one subject a day, which would keep it pretty simple. I found that not nearly enough and did a lot more, such as doing some subjects several times instead once. But I ended up trying to do way too much in one day. So maybe they know what they are talking about ;). I had a hard time stopping myself, partly because there are so many great resources online for FIAR. This was only our first book, PING, and as soon as I googled my keywords for it, I found so many things that I didn't know which ones to choose. What I love is that with FIAR, you get to pick and choose exactly what you do but the manual guides you with ideas and discussion questions, but the actual gathering and planning of those things is up to you. That's the part that I have a love/hate relationship with. It's really cool being able to pick the things you know your kids will love to teach them specific things. It's really time consuming having to go through everything to find things you know your kids will love to teach them specific things!

When Madison was in 1st grade, we did KONOS, another unit studies. It was quite different though, you didn't do a book unit study every week, but a theme, such as the middle ages over a longer period of time (I can't remember, maybe 6 weeks?). KONOS was great, but after one semester, I decided that was far too much work for me. This feels a bit easier, simpler. Madison and I both got tired of our KONOS units before the time was over. With 3-5 days, this seems like something we wouldn't burn out on.

I especially like all the little rabbit trails we went on this week. We start with reading a book about a duck and end up learning all how to cook bamboo. If anyone doesn't particularly care for something we are learning about, wait 5 minutes. It keeps their interest and they get a lot of say in what we look up, within reason. After the first day, on day 2 and 3, they both asked "Is it time to do Ping work now?" at different times, in different ways. They may not love every book as much, of course, but another awesome thing is that you can skip a book if you want to and go on to the next one. I think they learned far more than they would have with what I had originally planned. And I think it's neat that nobody else's week of Ping will look like ours, you teach to your child's interest and learning style, within certain boundaries.

Day 2
We ended up working 3 hours each day, my goal was 1-2. The boys were really engaged the whole time though and asked for more. Today, after I sat a stack of 4 books that we had just read from down, Tyler asked, "Got any more books???" If you know Tyler at all, you know he has never liked me reading to him any time except bed time, he would bawl if I tried to read during the day. This week finally changed that. He has also been extremely resistant to seat work, hand writing, anything "school like." I was hoping this would change in the next year or two, by age 7, when I want to start more formal school work. I was hoping I could find something to ease him into learning, to really create a love of learning with no fighting or pressure from me. I think FIAR really fits the bill and we have ended up doing far more seat work than I expected, because he actually really wanted to do everything relating to Ping. I thought it would be a struggle do one hour of official "learning time" with him but we have done 3, and and by 3 hours, I am the one who is done. It's pretty mentally exhausting working with 2 little kids one on one for 3 hours straight.  I don't know how elementary teachers do it longer. And then go home to their own kids.  I am going to try and limit it to two next week just to make sure that by the time I work with all 3 kids one on one, it's not dinnertime. Today, by the time I was done with the boys, Madison, and lunch, it was near 4, and I still have to read history to Madison. It's hard to tell the boys we are done when they are really excited about something though. One video on you tube led to another, one article about panda's led to another, to an activity sheet, to a different subject. I need to plan a little better as well to prevent going too long or getting too far off track.

Day 3
Day 1

I had a plan beforehand, but this what we did this week:

Each day we read PING, did Math-U-See, Reading Reflex and Hooked on Phonics Handwriting, Health, Safety and Manners lesson, Everyday Life and did our Godly character study using various sources. 

Day 1: 
Discussed running away from consequences
Discussed what fictional means, also author, illustrator, copyright, characters
Learned lots about China, watched a few youtube videos about their culture, googled Yangtzee River images and fishermen.
Colored the Chinese flag
Discussed and Colored the great wall of China 
Watched video on how birds catch fish for fishermen
Learned about ducks here, went to the park to feed some, couldn’t find any, discussed the drought.
Letter d  for duck sheet

Day 2:
Discussed and watched video about buoyancy that they really enjoyed 
Filled bowl with water and tested different items for buoyancy
We used a little mini figure guy and an am empty play-doh can to test them separately and then tied them together, to demonstrate why the boy was tied to a barrel. 
colored in ducks representing Ping’s family
Connect the dots to 30 activity sheet
Learn to Draw a duck activity sheet

Day 3:
I gave this day and loose plan, knowing I wanted to see where their interest took us, but knowing it would be somewhere.  
We got the children’s pictorial atlas  (love this book) and looked up China, discussed the landscape, the animals, ect.
Read some interesting facts about China, like paper was invented there and kept secret a while. Tyler also liked that gunpowder was discovered in China. They want to have pet panda. 
Looked up pandas, read about them and googled images using a few sites including this one  and learned that they eat mostly bamboo and why they are endangered.
Tyler asked if people can eat bamboo, so we googled and found this video of a guy cooking bamboo, eating it with a bowl he made out of bamboo with the bamboo chopsticks,. Pretty cool. 
 Let the boys pick an activity sheet, they chose a Lego theme panda
The boys saw me looking at minecraft printables on teacherspayteachers and went nuts. They picked out their own color by number pages and had fun doing them. They were so proud of their finished pages. 

Day 4 the kids were still talking about Ping, Panda's, China and other random things we had talked about. We went out for chinese for lunch and they all 3 used chopsticks, rather haphazardly. Tyler wanted to know if Panda's were mean to people like other bears, we looked up more about their behavior, watched videos of the being both cute and mean and talked more about what "endangered species" means. Friday's are a half/free day kind of day around here. I do housework, we have playgroup, maybe grocery shop, maybe do a little school but nothing that takes too much work for me, as it's my catch up day on everything else. That evening about 10pm, Tyler came to me and said "Can we do another lesson so I can learn more?" I couldn't believe my reluctant learner was so excited to learn! So we watched videos on youtube, with his favorite being the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom video, he also thinks the videos about the naughty little toddler, David, are hilarious. We watched others on the alphabet and short bedtime stories.

Saturday night, I looked up movies on netflix that related to China. Sunday we watched "Wild China" and we all loved it, it was beautiful! I have several more on my list to watch tonight.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Back to Blogging

Wow, can't believe it's been so long since I have updated here! I have come to it several times to try, and every time, my computer wouldn't let me add photos and I ended up giving up for a long time, every time, and just felt too busy off and on to worry about it. I have really wanted to get back to blogging, mostly to document the kids lives. I really love looking at my pasts blogs from when the kids were babies or I was pregnant. I hate that I am missing nearly two years! I just added the boys to our homeschooling days and these are some of the most fun years, I want to keep them documented.

This is our first official year of Pre-k and K with the boys (ages 4 and 5) - they are doing all of the same things just with slightly different expectations for each of them. This is our first year to have a schedule with more focus and goals. We started a few weeks ago but were interrupted by life (rental property crap) and are just now getting back into the swing of things. Madison just started 5th grade, all but Math, 4th grade there- she has always struggled in that subject and I will not push her ahead to keep her at grade level. At some point she will catch up before she is 18, not worried about that. That started when I took her out of school in 1st grade. I figured out she couldn't do 1st grade math (in March) so we restarted the year, and have since been a year behind. I would rather her eventually get it than be pushed to the next grade level and forever struggle. Teaching her math is still my most hated thing. I am trying a math class at a co-op this year and hoping that helps, but we may end up going back to Teaching Textbooks, because out of everything, it seemed to be the best experience we have had, although not perfect.

Today, we started FIAR (Five in a Row curriculum) with the boys. It's a literature based program, with weekly unit studies based on classic children's literature. You read a book and do correlating activities for different subjects, so each subject has something to do with the story, rather it be art, math, science, social studies, ect. We are not doing it exactly as they have laid out, they suggest one subject per day. We are doing several subjects a day, but the activities are not lengthy. Typcially, you read the book for 5 days with a different subject focus each day, we are combing subjects and doing a 3-4 day work week since our schedule is pretty full with co-op and play group day. With FIAR, you only need to add a reading and handwriting program, if desired, to make it a well rounded curriculum for K. This is what our plan for the week looks like. I'm adding this because I really enjoy seeing other homeschoolers schedules and lesson plans, it's a great way to get ideas. I got most of mine from others who have posted what they did for FIAR, and I'm so grateful for all of the free printables and shared ideas!

I was really not sure how schooling Tyler a bit more formally would go, and I am generally against kids, especially boys, starting school before age 7. So I wanted something that would keep things light, fun, low pressure for us both, and would fit naturally into our life without too much busy work, I didn't want them working more than 2 hours a day and not even that if they were not interested. So far, I think it's working!  Tyler LOVES me teaching him. He has always resisted it before. But he has been awesome! He loves learning, loves cuddling on the couch and reading with me now. LOVED doing activities that corresponded with the book today. Ethan, who I thought would be the best student, is a tad bit less interested, but that is due to age, he still did really great.  If today is an indication of how the rest of the year will go, it just may be a great year with the boys and FIAR may be what keep on using. Today was very educational and fun, exactly what I wanted. The boys actually wanted to keep on learning and reading, so we added some things to our list and ended up working 3 hours, but I really wouldn't call it working.

Madison, on the other hand, is a different blog post for a different day.

Here is my pinterest board where I saved most of the links and activities or blog posts that helped me make our weekly plans, along with the FIAR manual.

Here is what our morning looked like with the boys. We got all of this done before lunch.

Tyler and Ethan - Lesson Plan Week 1
Five in A Row Book Study- The Story About PING

Mondays: Co-op days. Tyler takes Pe, World Studies, and Lego Class. Ethan takes 3 pre-k music/ K prep classes. 

Homeschool days at home are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday with a half or off day on Friday and playgroup or field trips.

All 3 Days: Hour 1
Hooked on Phonics Handwriting (10 min)
Reading Reflex (10-20 min)
Math-U-See (20 min)
Character book- continue activities on Godly character- (10-15 min)
Health, Safety and Manners Book Lesson and/or Everyday Life Book (10-20 min) 

Hour 2:

Day 1 - Tuesday

Discussion during/after reading book: 
Discuss running away from consequences- Ping chose to run and hide instead of facing his consequences, and almost ended up someone’s dinner instead of safe with his family. Discuss how Ping followed and ate the rice cake trail, only to be caught by the boy, sometimes things look like a good thing but are not. 
Literature- Discuss what a fictional book is, ask them to name other fictional stories

duck cutout craft

Social Studies:
Learn all about China and the culture, the Yangtzee river, look it up on globe, watch video on China on youtube, color Chinese flag, Great Wall of China sheet just because Tyler loves the wall, watch video on how birds catch fish for fisherman.

Learn about ducks and what they eat. After school work, feed the ducks bread at the park.

Ping line tracing sheet, Letter Dd sheet

Start book report page for folder on Friday, discuss author, illustrator, copyright, favorite characters and moments

The next two days are very likely to change, we will adapt as needed day to day. But here is the plan:

Day 2 - Wednesday

Why is the boy wearing a barrel? Discuss buoyancy, fill a bowl with water and try out different items to see why they float and discuss why. Use “Does it float or sink?” worksheet. 

Counting Skills using duck printable to color in Ping’s family
Connect the dots to create Ping

Learn to draw a duck activity sheet, Following directions duck activity

Have rice with dinner

Day 3 - Thursday

Art and Science:
Paint something with a reflection, discuss why a duck can see his reflection in the water. If interest and time allows, discuss how the duck stays dry in water. 

Social Studies:
Learn more about China and do China lapbook, use the kids Atlas, as much as the kids are interested in and print activities they think look interesting. Tyler mentioned his favorite animal is a panda, look up panda’s together and do related activities. 

Day 4- Friday

Put our folders (like a lapbook) together on Ping and review everything

Make rice cakes
Have duck for dinner? HA!

And here are some of the pictures from the first day. They really, really enjoyed today and I loved seeing them enjoying learning. Tyler wrote his whole name for the first time all by himself without my prompting. He surprised me by writing a letter R without asking how, because we hadn't covered that one yet other than me just writing his name for him at times and telling him the letter names. He has been very reluctant to write any letter besides a T. I thought it was going to be such a struggle to get him interested in anything besides Minecraft and Lego's, but he couldn't have been better. Ethan seems to have a strength for reading. He is catching on during our reading lessons a bit quicker than Tyler, despite being 18 months younger. Our reading lesson was the only one that made Tyler want to move on to something else but he handled it well.