Sunday, January 19, 2014

We're Half Way Through the Year!

Usually I'm a bit depressed when I hit the halfway mark because I feel so behind and I feel like I haven't accomplished that much.  This year though, I'm just excited that we're here.

I think one reason I'm glad that we're half way through, is because I pushed to make sure we were not behind in math.

Well, Hyrum is a bit behind, but that's because we were going very slow at the beginning until I came up with our breakthrough that I described in this post. Now however, Hyrum is catching up to speed and I'm very happy with where we're at.

He can count by 2s to 30, by 10s to 100, by 5s (if he's using nickels), can count backwards, is very familiar with odds and evens, knows his shapes, and simple adding. Of course, he is still using "Rightstart" language. By this, I mean that instead of saying "thirteen" he says "one-ten three" and instead of saying "twenty six" he says "two-ten six." This is brilliant. If every child did this for the first year or two in school, we would have kids who were better in math. I have no intention of changing this language until sometime next year.

He's doing really well with money math lately, and can find all the different ways of finding change with pennies, nickels, and dimes.

However, do you see that apple core he's eating? It's become a very strong habit that he HAS to be eating an apple (an orange or carrot or other fruit or vegetable will do in a pinch) while we are doing school. I think it's partly because of ADHD and partly because it gives him an excuse to answer a question delayed. (He's chewing, he can't possibly answer that question right this second.)

Also, note Monster William wrecking Hyrum's carefully made tally marks.

Maxwell really is half way through with his book. It's interesting. Right now, Rightstart is having Maxwell do tons of geometry to teach fractions and multiplication. He is LOVING this.

Maxwell has caught onto what hyrum does and also loves to eat while doing school. Hummm.

As far as writing goes, Daniel has learned how to do all the uppercase letters properly.

Hyrum's printing is as good as he wants it to be. In other words, if I bribe him or he's in the mood, he has the straightest nicest letters that a 6 year old has ever produced. But if not, they are letters that are having a story with one another and are fighting and partying and living it up. (I'm not making this up! They're perfect, or a toy for him to play with.)

With reading, spelling and grammar, I'm trying something new. I've decided to try the Barton system. I will post about this later. I want to try it out for a few months first. I will post when I feel like I've seen success or when I think the Barton system is junk. I'm REALLY optimistic that I will find success, not junk.

Anyway, since I've just started the system, I'm not down in the dumps that we're half way through the year because I have new hope in a new program.

Well, let's move on to what actually happened this week:

In science we started studying rocks. We talked about how scientists check to see what rocks are made of (scratching, streaking, weighing, etc)

And we also started some crystal experiments since we will talk about crystals next time. We did our sugar crystal candies again. I thought it was okay to do this experiment every two years instead of every four. No one seems to mind repeating sweetness. Behold our sugar crystal starters:

Next week you'll see how they've transformed into rock candy!

For geography, we studied Denmark. We made woven hearts for our activity.

Each boy made two of them which we taped together at the bottom so we could have them as a container for the popcorn we had for our movie Hans Christian Anderson. I remember liking that movie as a child, but as I watched it as an adult, I realized that it's a bit whacked.

We also studied France. It's fun to point out which fairy tales come from which country. We read Beauty and the Beast, Puss in Boots, and Cinderella for France, we read Jack and the Beanstalk for England, and Thumbelina for Denmark. Daniel asked "where's Humpty Dumpty?" When we read puss in boots. I guess we've watched that movie too often. We made "bilboquets" as our activity:

Hahaha, did you think we actually made THAT? No, our bilboquets were made out of styrofoam cups and balls. I just thought this was a little more impressive, and you can actually tell what it is.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Argentina, the UK, Sweden, and my heritage.

This week we studied Brazil and made carnival masks as our activity.

Then we studied Argentina. We had no activity. I felt so guilty for not doing Argentina properly. When I was four, my brother came home from his mission to Argentina, and I was enamored with all things Argentinian from then on. (Although maté made me want to barf.) I felt like a traitor to my brother and childhood for not doing an activity, but I had planned on painting gourds and couldn't find any.

On a slightly less dramatic note, we studied Sweden. I was always told that the Thulin (my maiden name)  clan came from a Sweden viking line, and that there are villages there that even resemble the name Thulin. I'm not sure how true this is. I know my uncle wants it to be true since he and his son served their missions there, but when I actually look at genealogy charts, they say we're really from Norway.

Nevertheless, my brother (the one who went to Argentina) and his family always celebrate St. Lucia in honour of our Swedish heritage, so I decided to do the same.

Wasn't it perfect that my niece came by for the event? And I didn't even burn her hair.

But what I really loved teaching my kids about this week was the UNITED KINGDOM! I might of been enamoured by Argentina, but I was OBSESSED with England as a child. My mom is from there, and stories from England were my favourite stories ever.

I remember thinking as I looked at the mountains that completely surrounded the Utah valley I lived in, that Utah was inside the mountains, and the England was on the other side.

We made Christmas crackers as our activity, and the boys thought this grand fun since it made it seem like Christmas again.

And since we started on a new continent, we are done with our America geography song. Maxwell got quite good at it:

Now on to learning the Europe song!

And since Christmas break is behind us, school is in full blown splendor. That's right: Science, robotics, co-op, and piano are back.

For science, we are doing geology, and studied the history of the earth a bit and the makeup of the earth. We talked about the rock cycle and the state of the interior of the earth. Here's us seeing how a raw egg wobbles compared to a hard boiled egg so we could talk about how the earth wobbles a bit too.

And co-op. Holy cow! This theatre thing is being taken very seriously. My boys are practicing three days a week! I even had to pack them a lunch one day. I'm not used to that! Boy they are working hard. That director is amazing.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Times Tables Magic and the Library

Introducing TIMES TALES!!!! The magical way of learning times tables in one hour! Amazing and unreal as it sounds, it's TRUE!

Maxwell has always been really good at math. I've enjoyed the Rightstart Math curriculum, however they don't drill like I think they should. I add a lot of extra worksheets for grade one, and for this third grade year, I've added my own times tables drilling.

Once Maxwell understood what multiplication was (which Rightstart does an EXCELLENT job explaining,) I started having him pass off numbers. I started with 0s then 1s, 2s, 10s, 11s, and 5s. First I have him do it in order (2x2, 2x3, 2x4 etc,) and then out of order (2x8, 2x3, 2x5 etc.) He has to do it within a certain time limit.

There is no memorization necessary with any of these numbers. I was worried about the upper times tables where there's a lot of memorization needed. I had a cute CD, but even to me it just sounded like a string of numbers to music. Maxwell is tone deaf. Music doesn't work too well with him.

Then I found TIMES TALES! Seriously, it works!!!! It's ghetto, don't get me wrong. Black and white poorly drawn pictures with lame graphics and a not-so-talented narrator, but who cares? Maxwell has watched this DVD twice (two times-only 2) and he knows his time tables!

Buy it and try it-you won't regret it.

Okay, enough of me promoting- now on to this week----

This week it was snowy and cold. I had Dustin go to the library for me and pick up my books I had ordered in. (My library is part of a library network where you can order books from libraries all over our region. I never look at the physical shelves, I just find what I want online and order it.)

The librarian said to Dustin "Yah, I think she doesn't need these books. She's done with learning about South America, and is starting to learn about Europe." Dustin-"You know what she's teaching right now?" Librarian-"Yah, she orders so many books, and when we get them in, we know who they go to before we even look at the name." Dustin-"Does she order more than everyone else?" Librarian-"Practically. The Hutterites beat her, but they are ordering books for their whole schools."

Hahahaha! Yep! I use my library!!! In fact, just look at this photo of MOST of the books I have checked out right now:

And I have ordered about 40 more books that should be coming in within the next week or two.

What really cracks me up, is that the librarian was right! I am on my last couple of countries in South America, and I will be moving on to Europe at the end of next week (hopefully.)

Truthfully, we usually don't read ALL these books, but we do read at least 80% of them. This is about two weeks worth of books.

Anyway, this week, we read all the books we had on Chile. We made rain sticks for our activity.

And I thought I would include this photo of our cute CTR boy since it's a new year with new primary teachers.