Sunday, January 22, 2017

Lungs, Muscles, and fish guts

You may have noticed that I haven't posted any science photos lately. Umm that's because we haven't done much lately.

Before Christmas we actually had a club where we learned about lungs. Complete with a model.

And this week I've committed myself to a science club every week I am home from now on! (That is-until we go to Vanuatu in a month and a half.) We started out this commitment with a club about muscles. I made a pretty cool model, but it got broken in the first demonstration. Oops. but we had fun with other things and I know learning was happening.

I knew I wanted a tendon model, and I showed Maxwell the youtube, and while I was teaching math to his brothers, Maxwell made three models! So fun that I can count on him. He made them so well that they could grab things nicely.

We even had an activity where they practiced fine motor skills with muscles that weren't used to it.

And this Saturday we went and fed the seals fish guts at Fisherman's Wharf and went to Chinatown.

As far as math goes, Maxwell is now able to get the areas of almost any shape. including ones with curves!

But I must say, Rightstart is not perfect (at least in the first edition) These are the things they need to focus more on:

*Order of Operations
*Converting fractions into percents and decimals
*Balancing Equations
*The Distributive Property
*short cuts of multiplication and division with multiples of 10
*multiplying and dividing decimals.

These seem so important! how did they do such a bad job of covering them? but I guess these topics will come in Jr high math ?!? Sometimes they go over it lightly or just expect you to know it. We revert to the youtube channel "Mathantics" when that happens.

Hyrum is now able to understand written numbers in the millions.

and Daniel is working on fractions inside equilateral triangles that he makes himself.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Catching Up

I "Let it Go" quite a bit, and with Christmas and my birthday....well... be grateful I'm writing now...not sure who should be Westwind teacher? Hi John.

I've been trying to figure out my homeschool life. Trying to find to joy in motherhood. One day we went on a hike with my sister in law and then we went to her house and painted, and I felt like it was a perfect day. I wanted homeschool to feel more like that.

I think trying to do Seeing Stars threw me over the edge. It was frustrating and not working. I probably didn't give it a fair chance, and I paid a lot of money for the materials and training. So I feel torn. Should I do it for all the wrong reasons, or stop for all the right ones?

I stopped. In fact, I hired my niece, Amalie, to teach Barton to Hyrum and Daniel at the same time (they are at the same level now...did I mention that?) And that has seemed to overcome the burnt out-ness or maybe it was just MY burnt out-ness that it helped. Whatever the case, she is a God send.

I feel better about reading (perhaps this is because I'm not teaching the bulk of it anymore.) I'm having Hyrum and Daniel reading the post-level-three chapter books to me, and they are doing great and..........drum roll please........


Do you know how I longed and prayed and cried to be able to post this photo! He didn't know I took it. It was not posed. This is the book "Bunnicula." I read the first chapter to him and gave him a wink and handed the book over and he stayed up until midnight reading and didn't want to do anything but READ all the next day!!

There have been a handful of books other then this one that he's read since this photo, and I don't even have to read him the first chapter anymore. He's really liked the "Littles" by Petersen. He can go through those quite quickly and easily.

DYSLEXIA GOOD DAY!!!! I just keep thinking of this post: Bad bad Dyslexic Day

Where I wrote this "I'm still going through the sludge. Dreaming of the day that I will see Maxwell with a chapter book that he picked up on his own account. Devouring it because he loves it. Then I take a photo. I post it on this blog, and I say how wonderful it is that he's reading. How all those countless hours are worth it. And how now I know Hyrum will be okay too. All I have to do is persevere and he will have his own photo too."

You guys!!! THIS IS THAT POST!!!!

I'm still insecure and a worry wart, but Maxwell will be okay.

Anyway, this post is already too long so let's go through history really fast...

We learned about early immigration/Ellis island and we made Lady Liberty crowns as our activity. It was fun because we did this on a boat heading to USA!

Okay so I have to tell you about this---I had read to my kids in the ferry line-up for awhile (we got there really early) and when we actually got on the ferry I read another quick story or two and then quickly talked about modern immigration issues.

I thought I was rather nonpartisan in my speech, but I did include talking about the prophet and Pres. Uchtdorf.

While we were making crowns, my sister in law (who was grateful I was teaching her children) was questioned by an older couple close to us:

Them "Who do all of these many children belong to?"

Kirsten "Oh, some are mine, and some are hers."

Them "She's homeschooling isn't she."

Kirsten (thinking they were impressed as it was a Saturday and instead of shoving devices in their hands were being educated) proudly said "Why yes, she is."

Them "oh yes, well, I don't approve of any of this."

and huffed off!!!!

Cracked me up! Yes immigration is a very sensitive issue right now, but guaranteed your kids' public school teacher has her own agenda! And you don't even know what that agenda is!!!

On the return ferry we learned about the Wright Brothers, and no one huffed about that!

We've also learned about Henry Ford and the assembly line.  We made assembly line car cookies. We had a bottleneck in our assembly line, but they were tasty in the end!

We also learned about Charles Lindbergh (I emphasized that he was Lucky Lindy) and Amelia Earhart and made lots of paper airplanes from that awesome World Record Paper Airplane book.

We learned about the early movies. We read The Invention of HUGO Cabret and watched Steam Boat Willy and they made their own stop animation movies.

They did this one 100% on their own:


And this one Hyrum did 100% on his own, and I thought it was so cute that he chose the good Samaritan!


And we learned about Women's Suffrage.....actually, I was gone ALL day and my niece Maria actually taught them and helped them make picket signs. I had left the instructions to make "Votes for women" signs and they did "vote for women" letter can sure change the meaning!

Maxwell had read "Make it Fair" which is a chapter book about Canadian Women's suffrage ON HIS OWN because of Grandma's class.

And for History's records, this book series looks really good:

And we learned about lighthouse history a bit yesterday when we visited a lighthouse:

If you look very closely you can see OTTERS in that lighthouse photo!

And since it was Christmas, we had Christmas activities. My sister Danette, the best sister anyone could ever have-who actually reads her sister's long winded blog posts ;) -invited us over to make our own gingerbread houses-

And invited to see the Gingerbread house she made...that was in a contest that may have been a little more impressive than ours-

My parents had come for Christmas, and my Dad loved the ceramics they had made for him:

And my mom loved spending time with the kids including going to the aquarium-

And my incredible sister took us to Butchart Gardens, and although the kids didn't go, I thought I would include this photo because it's just too cool:

And my boys were in the church's nativity and we had fun with TONS of family.

And for Christmas, the boys got their very own 3D printer. They had loved Papas and helped make a 3D settlers of Catan game.

Now they make their own 3D creations:

But after all the gifts, all they really wanted were the boxes they came in!

So I haven't mentioned math-well, I was totally caught up before we had Christmas break, but now I'm a few lessons behind- I blame that whole "Let it Go" thing- anyway, it will be easy to catch up because I have help from Amalie with reading, so I have more mental ability.

In math, Daniel is a year ahead of his grade at least, but he still has Dyslexic quirks that show up once in awhile. For instance, he has been able to tell time forever, but we were trying to talk about concepts like "five minutes before the hour" and it was like I was dealing with a different Daniel. He had no capabilities to do this. "Before and after" being indicated by going left or right on a round clock? One of the hardest things for a dyslexic mind.

But good news: He's doing perimeters like a pro----don't you think that should be a harder concept?----not to dyslexics!!

Hyrum's finally gone through his times tables chart for this year. He completed it last year, but we needed to do it again this year. He's excited for his date to celebrate. Now I'm going to have Daniel do it!

And Maxwell has been doing very advanced things. He knows all about Pi, tangents to circles, bisecting angles, perpendicular bisectors, angles in arcs, and much more.

WHEW! I'm caught up!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Let it GO Homeschool

Something really bothered me about my last post. The part where I said "Sometimes I hate homeschool." and it bothered me because I was honest.

That is just not okay. I am the CEO of my homeschool!  If something is not right, then I need to change! So this, and the fact that I was intimidated in starting a new reading curriculum, had me just Let it GO this week.

We didn't do our all.

Whoo Hoo!

BUT-- There's something that always really bugged me about Frozen. While we're celebrating with Elsa in letting it all hang out and be the ice queen she's meant to be, this is what's happening to her country:

That's right, they're freezing their patooties off and all the crops are probably dead, and no one had fuel ready, so there could very likely be DEATH AND CARNAGE!!!!

Yah, so maybe letting it go is not so glorious after all. Maybe it's just selfish.

But does that mean Elsa has to be miserable and sacrifice herself for her country?

In her happy ending, she learns how to restrain herself, and still be able to express herself. She became balanced because of her sister's love.

Soooo how does this apply to my homeschool?

Well, while we were "letting it go" it's not like my boys spontaneously learned....anything. Maybe how to use Netflix a bit better.


So this is the usual list of everything I FEEL like needs to happen in a day for me to be a SUCCESSFUL amazing homeschool mom:

*Reading Scriptures
*Devotional with:
      -memorizing scripture
      -family standard
      -timeline memorization
      -mormon channel video
      -science fun video
*Make breakfast
*Maxwell Reads to me
*Hyrum/Daniel reads to me while other reads to Maxwell
*Three oldest write freelance.
*Review alphabet/counting/shapes etc with William
*Do intense one-on-one with Maxwell in math/english
*Do intense one-on-one with Hyrum in math/english
*Go on an outing with the family
*Do intense one-on-one with Daniel in math/english
*Do something incredible like science club, history activities etc
*Help the boys with things that they actually WANT to do like researching venom or photoshop
*Make the boys do their jobs
*Make dinner
*Do the laundry
*Read to the boys and put them to bed

And then I of course get frustrated with myself because the boy's bedroom is not clean, they are NOT wearing pajamas, and there is marker on the wall.

Do you know what I accomplished this week?


But guess what? I actually feel like I NEED to do everything on that list! That if I don't it's like this:

I truly don't feel like my boys can learn things by osmosis. Maybe this is dyslexia, maybe I'm just mistaken, but I feel like if I don't make an effort, they're not going to get it. And they certainly didn't this week.

Well, actually, to be fair, Grandma's Canadian History has inspired Maxwell to make this Poster:

He was supposed to make a poster to advertise something fun for the Order of Good Cheer for the men of Samuel De Champlain to do.

Also, he read half of this book and I read the other half to him:

And he also listened to the entire audio book of Anne of Green Gables. Again.

This was all Grandma's doing: not mine.

AND to be fair to me, Tues was Dustin's Birthday, and we spent half the day out having fun as a family, Thurs. we spent most of the day at my sister's helping her with a project, Friday I had a heart palpitation which FREAKED me out, and I spent the day sleeping until we had a party for Dustin (again) and today (Saturday) we did do a little canoeing.

Yah, but we DID do math. So here is that:

Maxwell's math is getting pretty intense, he's learning pretty technical stuff, like how the ratio of a triangle is related to a rectangle that is inscribe inside it.

Daniel finally did his first test of the year (not sure why they have him do it so late) and he aced it.

And Hyrum mostly practiced long subtraction. He's totally got it down.

But how do I deal with my Let it Go dilemma? How do I feel like I am teaching my kids all that I feel I need to with out being burnt out?


Seriously. I have no idea. 

I was reading last year's blog how I changed it to teaching one on one with just one child a day. maybe I can do that again. maybe not. I just don't know.

Well If I love myself with what ever I do or don't do, but I still have the motivation to do as much as I can, I will be balanced. But that seems like a pretty unreachable balance.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Lindamood-Bell and Edison

I have been trained in TWO of Lindamood Bell's Programs!!!

A week ago I went to Seattle and for four days. I was trained how to teach the way this $115 dollar (U.S. $) an hour (!!!) learning centre teaches their students.

This is the centre that Hyrum went to this summer to be assessed. We assessed him because our local school psychologist said that he would benefit from one of their programs. When Hyrum was assessed, however, they said he needed two programs, so I signed up for training in both programs.

First I was trained in Seeing Stars:

This is a reading program. It is not Orton Gillingham, but says it's still effective at teaching dyslexic people. I must say though....I see lots of holes and ways that it's just inferior to Barton. BUT Hyrum is just plain burnt out of Barton. We need a break.

Seeing Stars' main focus is symbol imagery. Being able to see letters in your head and hold onto those images enough to manipulate them and retain their meanings.

They do this through air writing. Which is writing letters in the air and reading from that. I know that sounds hocus pocussy, but it actually makes a lot of sense once you delve into it all.

I'm so glad I took these courses in Seattle, because that is where the centre is that Hyrum went to, and the lady that met us this summer visited the workshop.  She explained the tweaking I should do to the system because of Hyrum's severity.

Second I did Visualizing and Verbalizing:

This is the program that was initially recommended for Hyrum. It helps for his comprehension and critical thinking. He has trouble really grasping oral instructions and stories, as well as stories that he's read that don't have pictures with them.

I'm really excited about this program and can see how it will help Hyrum make "movies in his mind." BUT they said I should focus on Seeing Stars first. They said I should even throw math out the window until he is up to grade level in reading....Uh no....not going to happen.

We need to be succeeding at something!!

There was one homeschool mom of a severely autistic boy at the Visualizing and verbalizing, but other then that, I was the odd one. Everyone else there were tudors at rich elite private schools and speech pathologists and professors at the University of Washington teaching this to their grad students.

Even these professionals admitted that they would not get the time that they needed with their students to make these programs really effective. And as I thought about these people and what they are doing, a beautiful thought dawned on me:

My kids are getting a better education then any elite private school in one of the richest cities in America.

That is if I don't flake off.

AND I"M NOT-somedays I hate homeschool---I'll just be honest---but we are plugging along with grit and trying to make it as happy as possible in the process.

One way we're trying to make it happier is by using Lindamood Bell's discipline tools. These are stones that you give regularly throughout a lesson and then when they get tons of these stones you give them 10 stickers on a card and when they get enough stickers you give them prizes. We have decided to go with plain old money as prizes, as my kids have been dying at a chance to earn money.

Here's Hyrum reviewing aspects of place value with his stones incentives:

Sometimes I wonder if I should get ridalin for this fast moving brain. Three different professionals have prescribed it, but I have resisted it. Hmmmm

Daniel will be doing Seeing stars with Hyrum. He is now done with Barton Book 3

However, when I'm honest with myself, he still needs more time on his "old, olt, oll," etc endings before he should really be considered done, but I feel like I need to start Seeing Stars tomorrow, so we're going forward.

Maxwell will continue with Barton. He's doing so good with it. He is finally reading FOR FUN!!! I am over the moon. The class that his grandma is doing for Canadian history has really been a motivator for him.

Grandma has him reading books to get leaves on a tree on her wall.

He even wrote a report ( as a ship's log) totally on his own, which was unheard of awhile ago.

And while we are reporting about english and math, here's a photo of Daniel learning about making change. A hard concept for each of my boys to grasp, because when first introduced, the change after spending $.65 always seems like it should be $.45 and it takes them awhile to realize that those two 5s need to be counted too.

And I am continuing to teach William, and I thought I would begin teaching him writing, and I brought out the good ol' trusty Handwriting Without Tears supplies, and was confident that all would go smoothly.

All did not go smoothly.

When I asked him to point to the smily, he did this:

He showed me the best smily he could. Oh the cutey!!!

And then when he did his writing on paper it looked like this:

I am not wanting a struggle. I don't need another hard walk through the muck. This can wait until Kindergarten. After all, he is a summer birthday.

But he IS getting better in many areas, and his letter sounds are almost perfected now. Check it out :

AND we ARE doing fun things!!!

We live a few blocks from an aquarium. We got passes for it this week, and my boys were over the moon about the place, even though it's a bit small.

We also went to the Salmon run. We saw lots of dead fish, but we also saw fish making nests and spawning. We went with my sister (hi!) and the cousins, and it was gorgeous and made me happy to be living here.

And for history we studied Edison and Tesla. When I was reading a tesla book, we were reading how he had all his plans in his head and he could see his inventions in his mind and he could put the parts together in his mind and see how it would work.

Maxwell said "He is SOOO dyslexic." Which, in fact, he was. I was so happy that Maxwell could recognize dyslexic strengths.

Also we read this quote by Edison (who was kicked out of school twice because teachers refused to teach the "addled" boy) talking about his mother "She was always kind and sympathetic and never seemed to misunderstand or misjudge me. If it had not been for her faith in me..I should very likely never have become an inventor."


I fall short so often. But I get back up

For our activity we actually made a light bulb with a carbon filament. I'm not joking. It was pretty epic.