Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap Year! and Back Home Again.

Yah, so when I travel I guess I'm not as good at doing this every week. But I'm sure you survived without my posts.

I realised we didn't post about Valentine's day, and then realized I've been lazy about writing. This Valentine's day we didn't have anyone to send love letters to, but we DID make sugar cookies. Well, or sugar cakes. It was a bit of a sugar/fat overload. Doubt if we will do this again.

But most importantly, DUSTIN CAME HOME! Behold my African Prince:

He was dressed like that when I picked him up at the airport. I died laughing. He says this is conservative for Benin. Thankfully the tailor made the sleeves a little snug, or he would be wearing it every day, I'm sure.

My boys were pretty excited that Dustin gave them rocks. They had asked for some because they are really into rocks because of the Curiosity Museum. They have this Trading Post where you give them rocks, and they give you points that you can buy different rocks and things with.

My mom (who was AWESOME with my kids) fed their rock passion by taking them to a store where they sold rocks of all sorts. They all got some really cool rocks that started a rock collection Bonanza!

This is not the whole collection, this was just the beginning. 

Also, when we got back I thought "I'm done with extra curricular. Only science and robotics for me." But then of course I saw the Alternate school offering classes about rocks.....I caved.

So for history we have actually done some things.

We learned about Alexander the great and made lighthouses as our activity. Of course when we were studying him, we realized that the Pharos lighthouse was actually built after Alexander died. Uhh perhaps next time around we will do an activity about a black horse. That would be more fitting.

We studied Romans. I feel like my kids know quite a bit about Romans because of Story of the World. We learned specifically about Pompeii that day (well Romulus and Remus, Julius Caesar and Cleopatra were taught as well.) But MAN there was some crazy stuff in Pompeii. Editing was necessary.

Anyway, we made our own Mt Vesuvius as our activity. Pretty lame, should have at least used food colouring.

And WHO is the most important figure in all of history? Jesus of course, but we need to celebrate the prophet who paved the way for him: John the baptist. And to celebrate John the Baptist, we ate "locust."


Those were the best tasting locust EVER.

And then (once we were home) we did an activity celebrating JESUS. We made a cup into a cloud and had Jesus ascend into the cloud. I liked it better then our sheep activity we did four years ago. 

We have also been learning the Classical Conversations timeline song, and I LOVE the part where it slows down and sings "JESUS THE MESSIAH!!" and pauses. It's like it's pointing out that this is the best part of the timeline of the world. It gives me chills.

We actually did science this week since we came home. We learned about metal and metallic qualities like conducting electricity.

We checked to see if other things were conductors of electricity as well...

I actually did not support this.....he did this on his own.

This science topic and experiments were not hugely amazing. Maxwell said it was the most boring class ever. That kid is SPOILED!!

As far as school subject staples, it has been working to teach one child a day, however, I've gotten a little lazy because I know that I don't have to freak out about staying on schedule in order to get things done, and then things happen, and then I say "oh I'll just teach you Barton tomorrow," and that is just not fun to have to teach two kids again.

I've been so impressed with my boy's math lately. Maxwell is doing questions like 2k-3=5 and he's also been doing 2537 divided by 3. 

Hyrum has been doing awesome. Look at this worksheet he just did.

And Daniel has continued to love the Piano. He's actually very intense about it. It's like it's stressful and hard but he is DETERMINED. He started making up his own compositions.  Check it out:

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Homeschool Switch Up

I'm not sure if you could tell, but for the past year and a half, when I've had a baby, a toddler, and been trying to teach three different aged children, homeschool has not had the joy that it once had.

Sometimes I've felt like "This is hard and stressful, but I have no choice." I was doing doing doing and not accomplishing half of what I wanted to, which made me feel constantly like I was hurried, behind, and incomplete.

I've never really felt like public school was an option. My kids' scholastic and emotional issues would not be fixed there. The more I research dyslexia, the more I dread public school teaching a dyslexic child.

And I never felt like "unschooling" or anything like unto it was an option. I didn't feel like if I just stopped teaching them everything would become roses and I would feel good about everything.

I also didn't feel like computerized curriculum was the answer. I truly love Rightstart math for my kids, and feel like they need the interaction with me. Also, Barton IS working slowly but surely, which is something that can't be said for the online reading programs I've tried.

But I knew it wasn't working. I was constantly burnt out.

Dustin was leaving for Africa, and we decided that I should spend the time he's gone with my mom. I needed her help.

When I got here, my mom remarked how she could tell that I was stressed, and I just bawled.

I went on a date with Dustin after that, and my mind was reeling, trying to figure out some sort of answer.

What if I taught Daniel and Hyrum together? It actually sounded more stressful than teaching them alone, but then more time would be freed up. What if I taught them twice as many lessons and didn't teach Maxwell until the next day and doubled his lessons too. And then I came up with the real answer:

One child a day who does two lessons.

BINGO! Maxwell on Monday, Hyrum on Tuesday, Daniel on Wednesday, Maxwell on Thursday, Hyrum on Friday, Daniel on Saturday.

We still do devotionals and individual book reading everyday, and it would mean each child got four lessons a week instead of five, but honestly....they usually got only four anyway. And it would mean I was doing schools on Saturday, but Daniel's lessons are the shortest anyway.

So, for a week and a half we have been doing school this way, and the result?


Of course, most of the time my mom has been taking ALL the other children OUT of the house while I am teaching that one child.....but even on the days when she hasn't been able to do this, the stress levels are not as high as they were before.

Before this change, most of the time wasted was in between children. Also, it was draining to have to convince each child that school was a good thing. Each child every day. Also, making sure we had everything for the lessons and getting into the mode. Each child every day.

SO are two lessons too hard for my kiddos? Two Rightstart lessons and an hour of Barton?


Hyrum was quite worried the first day when he heard my idea. We were doing math and I said "just do these problems, and you're done with math!" and he started being very dramatic saying "Yah, but then I have to do ANOTHER math and it will take as long as this and that's not fair and..." "Hyrum, you've already done two maths." "Hu?....oh!"

I even did three lesson with him the other day because his book has so many lessons to get through, and he handled it beautifully.

I'm a little concerned that there won't be as much repetition, but I'm willing to take the chances.

And I know it won't be as easy without my mom. I am seriously considering putting William in preschool next year, and kindergarten after that (not seriously considering full day first grade though) He is bored, and needs to get out of the house or he will destroy it.

But what about when I need to teach FOUR boys, you ask (or at least I have asked myself.) Well, by that time, Maxwell will be done with Rightstart and will be done with Barton.

Rightstart really suggests you use Videotext math after you're done with their program. Videotext is a computer/video type math, where I would not have to teach him, videos would. And since he would hypothetically be done with Barton, I would not have to worry about whether or not he could read all the instructions.

And since he would be done with Barton, he could start being self directed in online courses. With Coursera, or Williamsburg, or maybe even BYUI online.

Of course, this is just my theories, but perhaps, Maxwell could be fairly self directed, and so I can take him out of the rotation, and add William in.

So, after all that explanation, this has been my experience:

I wake up late (because I've been facebook messaging Dustin after midnight.) and I still get in devotionals and individual reading, Then mom leaves with the other kids, and I do that one child's school and it's not more stressful than before, and then mom's still not back yet, so that child and I decide what we want to study together.

Daniel decided to do photoshop one day:


Then we still have time and energy to do history!

And I still have time for my life!

And I'm SANE again!


So now on to a normal report of the past couple of weeks:

We left our beloved Cardston for who knows how long. We will miss our Westwind classes. This is of last semester class:

And before we left, we had Maxwell's birthday. I was trying to get ready for our trip, and I was totally stressed out with school, and then I give in and do an elaborate birthday party with TWENTY kids....not happening again.

It was a Minecraft party. It was pretty awesome if I do say so myself, but I left too much to the last second, and so I was totally stressed out for awhile.

See how William got to the cake before I could take a photo? the stinker.

And then we were off. On the road, I made more sight cards. I had made one on the computer, and it is my boys' all time favourite:

They informed me that Steve never actually raises his hand like that....whatever.

When we got here, there was more snow than Cardston!!! So much for avoiding the winter. Last year, Utah was warm and snow free this time of year.  Oh well

Before Dustin left, we went to the Provo City Centre Temple open house, which I think was some of the best education they have gotten all year long.

By the way, I took this photo of something Daniel wrote out of the blue. I thought it was so precious:

"families stay together forever" I hope when his pronunciation improves, his spelling will too!

Dustin sadly left, but we've been keeping busy. We went to the Curiosity museum, which is totally AWESOME!!! We spent two hours there, but we didn't see it all.

Check out our movie:

We went with my sister's family who had never been there either. So fun.

My mom's been taking the kids to the library and my Dad's been taking Maxwell fishing.

We're spoiled.

We also went to the circus. Pretty spectacular.

And we went to two plays that were playing here in Salem. Annie Get your Gun and Alice in Wonderland.

We have also actually done history!!!

We've studied ancient Greece. The olympics, philosophers, and the myths are what we've mainly focused on.

We made olympic medals out of ceramic casts of Greek horoscope characters as one of our activities:

And we went back to the Curiosity museum and went through their maze as an activity because we had read the Minotaur and the Labyrinth story.

Maxwell was super excited because he found out about their rock exchange program and can't wait till Papa comes back from Africa with awesome rocks that he can trade with.

Speaking of Dustin, I'm so in awe of who he is and what he's doing I feel so blessed to have the Van Duyses in our lives and for Dustin to be having all these experiences. Although, he went swimming in by a waterfall...that could have had crocodiles, snakes, and/or bacteria in it. NOT a Happy wife about that.