Sunday, May 29, 2016

The "End" of the year? and Lots of History

Next week, I really want to get more things packed for summer/eventually moving, and then I'm going to be gone to Arizona, so I felt pushed to get "school" done by the end of this week. Well, we sort of did, but it was hard because our littlest schooler was Very sick. I'm hoping he's all better now.

I told my kids a couple of weeks ago that we were going to have summer soon so we were going to be done with school. "NO! we love science. NO! we love history!"  Ahh, sometimes there are sweet moments in a homeschool mom's life.

Since I've been so sporadic with history this year, I've really had to ramp up the output to feel finished, and I'm still going to teach about Shakespeare and the Tudor time period more since I never got to it.

Two weeks ago we studied the reformation. I have a beautiful book about Martin Luther. He truly was a man who changed the world. I'm so glad he was peace-loving. I think that influenced things in so many ways.

We made stained glass windows to celebrate.

We also studied about Leonardo Di Vinci. I LOVE learning about him!!! My kids do too, especially since most historians believe he was dyslexic.

Did you know that he knew about heart valve functions? He invented so many things and made so many advancements in science. The main reason he was only known for paintings for so long is because he didn't write in latin and get his findings and theories published. History might have been changed if only Leonardo had a good marketing and PR team.

We made a model of one of his inventions: a paddle boat, but the cogs in the gears weren't big enough so it didn't work properly.

We also studied Michelangelo. It was neat because we had watched Animated Hero Classics about Leonardo Di Vinci, it showed that he was a contemporary with Michelangelo. Then we found a "Adventures from the Book of Virtues" about Michelangelo.  I really like the hero classics and book of virtues. If they want to watch cartoons, then at least they can be informative!

In the movie it had said that Michelangelo had sculpted snow for a party. I hadn't heard that before (and I KNOW my art history!) but we researched it out, and Yes indeed! He did.

Maxwell asked for us to do something different than painting on the bottom of the table (which is what I had planned.) And I got a stroke of inspiration from the snow story, so I quickly bought some ice blocks, and we started sculpting away!

I have to say, I felt so clever and so effective as a homeschooler that afternoon as they chipped away at their ice. Even if all they made was a "loaf of bread" a "ice bowl," and "miniature skating ramp park." Definitely doing this activity again.

And lastly we studied Good Queen Bess aka Queen Elizabeth I. I didn't have much oomph when studying her. Not sure how much they got into their memories about her, but they did make these cute ruffled collars:

Like I said, we will be studying the Tudor time period more and Shakespeare. However, I doubt I will do any activities to show for it.

Right now we're reading a cute book about Anne Boleyn and Tyndal:

And there you go: Ancient history from the beginning to the Renaissance.

We pretty much have the first half of Classical Conversations Timeline song down, and if we add what we learned last year, then we have TEN MINUTES of the 12 minutes memorized! We'll do the rest in the fall.

And we had already finished science, but my mom sent us this cute package full of rocks to encourage their rock collecting:

And now: a moment for math:


Math is always my push to get homeschool done each day. There are a certain number of lessons in each book, and the ocd person in me HAS to get the books done by the end of the school year so I push push push.

Hyrum's book had 150 lessons, while Maxwell's only had 140. Those ten extra lessons seemed like such a hurdle. When we got finished this week, I went online and looked at Maxwell's next year. He had 165!!! AHH! How will we survive?!? And then Daniel will have the book with 150.

Starting in August is the only answer. Blah.

AND I was wondering when Rightstart would really teach about fractions. Don't get me wrong. They teach so well that Maxwell can add and multiply fractions that he can conceptualize. He can also change percentages and decimals into fractions, BUT he hasn't done the rote fraction math. Like 14/23 plus 13/41. What would that be? You can't conceptually figure that out.

SOOOOO I figured out that there is ANOTHER book....the fraction book. It teaches fractions in just 45 lessons.....WHEN are we going to fit that fun book in?!? We'll just have to double up lessons. Not happy Rightstart, not happy.

Really, Maxwell is ahead of Alberta standards, so I should not feel like I'm in a rush or anything, but I want to be DONE with Rightstart by the end of next year because I want to have Maxwell be learning on his own in grade 7 using "Video Tech" math. I will be teaching William by then and I CAN'T HANDLE IT ALL!!!

Ahhemm....anyway, each boy did awesome this year.

I remember looking at the end of year test that Maxwell would be doing and being in awe that he would actually learn everything that was on there, and now that we are here, it just seemed so natural. Although we did have to review how to change decimals into percentages.

Here's Hyrum's. He did awesome. He finished what is a third grade level book even though he's technically in 2nd. I'm so proud of him. Proof that although his mind works differently, he can learn hard things.

Daniel was a super star! He finished his second grade level book with ease. He was only 6 years old most of the year. Oh yah. You go boy.

And now reading....well we didn't do much reading last week because of baby's sickness, showing the house, and getting caught up in history and math. BUT my plan is to make this the SUMMER OF READING!

We always do reading in the summer because my boys always need it, but this time it's going to be different!

I was talking to my friend who's son is also dyslexic, and she said how her son is now reading quite well. She had done some Dianne Craft work with him in the past, but hadn't this year. I asked her what made the difference. She told me how she sent her son over to his grandpa's everyday to read to him for an hour. It worked.

My boys don't read to me for an hour each day. Sure I work ABOUT reading with them for that long, but I'm giving them tools and not having them actually build.

This summer, Maxwell will be doing Barton Book 6 with me (he's already done with half of the book already,) but he will also be READING to me...for an hour at a time. AND he will not get paid for doing it.

I have been paying my boys to read to me. Maybe it was necessary at the time, but that time has passed. Now if I continue, they will never read for fun. They will always feel like they should get a reward, or what's the point.

Hyrum is done with book 3 but his comprehension and fluency is lacking dreadfully. It is pointless to go on to book 4 until he's mastered these. I'm not sure what I will be doing with him. Probably reading picture books with short vowels until his fluency is improved, but in July he will be getting an educational assessment by  Lindamood Bell and they (I hope) will guide me as to the next moves to be taken with him.

Daniel.....oh boy. I have to admit Daniel's reading has pretty much been on the back burner of our school year. He started off so quick and good, and I was sure he didn't actually have dyslexia, that I just never pushed him. Now he's only through half of book 3. How did that happen? I will push Barton this summer and do picture books for his fluency.

All three boys an hour each day. Even though it's summer. Kind of feels like I'm not taking a holiday. But we don't have to do it everyday. If we go here, or party there, I'm not going to bemoan the fact that things didn't get done.

So yep. There's the year. Although I'm going to keep writing in the summer. I'm going to get Barton Certified!!!! Hyrum will get assessed by Lindamood Bell and our district's psychologist!!!

Onward and Upward man!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Vet and the Plague

This week was pretty cool. Maxwell got to shadow a vet!

Maxwell has said that he wants to be an endanger species vet. Like a zoo vet, or rescue centre vet. Well, we don't have zoos or rescue centres here, but we do have your typical vet, so why not start there!

The two vets here are about the nicest guys in town, and were super accommodating and helpful.

Maxwell got to see them spayed a cat, clean a dog's teeth, see a cat get vaccinations, and see a Horse get his teeth filed down! Did you know a horse's teeth never stop growing? They need to get filed down if they don't have perfect teeth so wearing a bit is comfortable.

It was kind of funny. While he was cleaning the dog's teeth, we chatted, and I could tell he was a little worried about homeschooling. I'm not sure if I reassured him either. His biggest concern was that homeschoolers wouldn't be able to work for an employer.

I hadn't really heard that concern before, and I said "well, it's true that homescoolers are more likely to question authority." I just don't see that as a bad thing. My McKay clan nieces and nephews who homeschooled are going to college or who are graduating are doing it faster and better than average.

Will they be at cubicle jobs in the end? probably not. I believe education is freedom. The more education you have, the more freedom you have, and I think homeschooling can hep you believe that you really can be anything you want and explore it, and if the jobs not there, you make it yourself.

Well, we'll see, this is a twenty year long experiment I guess. I feel like it's right though.

It was interesting, we were talking about different things, and rats came up, and they said how rats were not allowed in Alberta (which I knew.) Then they said "Maxwell, do you know what disease rats cary?----I bet your mom might know---" and I went blank.

I thought about the Bubonic plague because that was what we were studying, and Maxwell had said to me earlier "Mom I know about the plague, why do we need to learn it again? It was fleas on rats that went to humans." I had even mentioned to the other vet that the plague was our current topic. But I thought he couldn't be meaning the plague's 2016.

So Maxwell and I just looked dumb as he then explained about the black plague and how it's still a risk and animals die from it and how even humans sometimes get it. I felt so stupid. I had to redeem myself and I kind of prompted Maxwell to share things about the London fire of 1666 that ended that plague outbreak. Prideful? yes.

Well anyway, the vet taught us a little more info on our subject. We made "plague doctor" masks to "ward" off the plague.

One book we read about the London fire was super cute for kids:

It was sadly perfect timing to learn about a fire that destroyed everything, because there was a fire in our province destroying everything!

88,000 people have been evacuated from Fort McMurray AB. They are still not allowed back, and at least 2,500 homes are gone. Just gone.

So heartbreaking.

We talked about how the Fire of London ended up to be a blessing and helped bring on the Renaissance, but it's hard to see Fort McMurray's fire as a blessing.

Well, anyway, we also learned about Gutenberg's printing press; the most important invention EVER! (Yes we talked about how the chinese and korean actually did it first...) Did you know Gutenberg was only in business for FIVE years?! He had to give his equipment back because he couldn't pay his loan, but in that time he made 200 bibles.

There is an awesome children's book about it:

We made our own moveable type printing press as our activity:

For science this week it was pretty lame, but it was supposed to be a party because it's our last class. I was going to do a few more things with Ph balance but I thought they were redundant and I was feeling lazy, so we just watched Brainpop. Half the kids didn't come until way late anyway.

The kids weren't that impressed with me but didn't complain either.

So there you go! Not much school left!!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Horrible King John, Plants, and Ph testing

Before I forget, I realized that I never posted about our Passover. Probably because I didn't take photos. Well, we DID do passover, and it was exactly what we needed.

We had lots of children read some passages from our program. I was handing out slips of paper with paragraphs on them and Maxwell excitedly asked if he could read one. He got up, and hardly made a mistake as he read his paragraph in front of the 50 or so group of people.

I was so proud, and I knew in that moment that homeschool was a blessing. Dyslexia in public schools usually creates a paralyzing anxiety of reading in public, but here Maxwell was EXCITED to read out loud. HORRAY!

This week in history we learned about that scurvy Prince John:

Yes, he sounds like he really was as bad as the children's books say.

First we BRIEFLY talked about Muhammad, The crusades, Saladin, Pilgrims and King Richard. I figure it's all in Story of the World, so they've heard it all before and they'll hear it all again.

Then we of course focused on Robin Hood! We had so much fun with our bows and arrows. Maxwell even made his before we started our Robin hood lessons because he saw it on the calendar that it was my plan. He liked his dollar store one too though.

We then went further and learned about the Magna Carta. We read a children's book that was pretty detailed. Yes King John WAS in Nottingham on several occasions and yes he DID tax the country into starvation, and everyone DID hate him, ESPECIALLY the friars and anyone else religious.

In fact, did you know that he make the Pope so furious that the pope actually ordered all religious clergy to LEAVE England? And then told the French king that England was now up for grabs? Can you imagine what that would be like for anyone in medieval England? It basically was sending them all to hell and death because of one man.

Anyway, I guess it was a good thing King John was so incredibly horrific because it did bring about the Magna Carta, and now we have the right to trial by our peers.

We made illuminated manuscripts while I read. Oh, we talked about illuminated manuscripts as well. (Can you tell I'm trying to squeeze in all the history I'm behind in?!?)

We also read about Joan of Arc. Medieval history's not complete without her!

This week was our last Westwind co-op day. This semester they've been studying geology and plants. They are growing a garden at the school, and I think it's so cute and wonderful how excited our principal and teachers are about the project. They've gotten a lot of support from the town, and they got t-shirts and plants that our kids could take home.

Maxwell has been VERY excited about this, and has been making his own greenhouses in preparation. They were made out of plastic and cardboard and ended up not to really fit the plants properly, but I was proud of him for trying.

For science we did PH testing. This year went better than our last rotation because I did it Steve Spangler's way! (gotta love that guy) We took cabbage and blended it and then added vinegar to one and clothes detergent to the other. Behold:

We also made Turmeric paper and tested different cleaners. We also had some strips from the chemistry teacher in town. My little band of students went a little CRAZY this lesson. Not sure why they were so hyper, but it's a good thing nothing we tested was explosive because they ambushed me and went on testing everything they could find and combined things in the cabbage juice and kept at it! Um, glad they were excited?

Later that week, Daniel said ""The acid in the sour keys put holes in my tongue and ruined my taste cells."

Only one more science club left.

On to Math. HYRUM PASSES HIS MULTIPLICATION TABLES!!! I'm so proud of him. This has been quite the accomplishment for him.  He has major anxiety when I time him, so I just have to say, "Let's see if you can do it easily." and if he make any mistakes or asks for help, we have to do it again next time.

But he finally did pass off every number on his treasure map.

We could have NEVER done this without the help of Times Tales. I will sing their praises loud and clear. I used the 12 times tables stories I made up as well. Here's a link to those.

Hyrum I know is smart (regardless of his pirate face.) He just goes about things in a different way. I remember when I was in school learning the times tables. The teacher had you put a picture of the times table you were on hanging from the ceiling above your desk. Everyone knew who had passed off their times tables....and who had not. I had not.  I stressed out over being timed. I felt dumb and resorted to cheating.

I ended up getting "A"s in math in jr. high, high school and college, and getting such a high math score on the ACT that I was able to skip a course or two in college.

So the fact that I couldn't get my times tables fast enough and that I was one of the last in my class to master them, reflected very little of my math capabilities.

And all that my third grade teacher accomplished was to teach me to cheat and feel horrible.

Anyway, sometimes Hyrum uses the Times Tale stories, sometimes he remembers patterns, sometimes he skip counts, and sometimes he uses strategies I think are exhausting.  Like thinking 4x8. Well, 4x5 is umm well 4x10 is 40 and half of that is 20, so 4x5 is 20 and then 4, 8, 12, so 12 is 4x3, so 20+12=32, so 4x8 is 32!  I have actually heard him say all this out loud when doing this question.

Just plain memorization is not realistic for him.

I'm so happy for what he's been able to do and we went on a family party to Lethbridge as a reward.

Also, as it was Mother's Day, my sisters-in-law invited me to go have a beautiful picture shoot among the sunflowers:

I love these women who make homeschooling so much easier than it could be. They are my mentors and I sure adore them!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Birthday boy, Emulsions, and Tasty Acids and Bases

The last two weeks I feel like I've got more on track with school. Although now I feel like I'm running until summer.

I will be going to Florida for a short trip in a couple of weeks. Then I will be going to Arizona in the beginning of June for a complete educational assessment for Hyrum. I will also get tested to become a Barton Dyslexic tutor and I will also get my dyslexic screening certificate.

And of course we're MOVING, or at least there's a good chance of that.

In other words, I need to get done with school ASAP. No problem j/k.  STRESS!!! Finish our math books? Finish ancient history? Whew. Okay, I can do this!

We have been learning quite a bit about medieval times. We went to the lake to make sand castles as our activity, but no one was that interested, and the results were less than amazing

We also have been studying ancient Africa, which is mainly stuff about oral traditions since they didn't keep very many written records. We were supposed to make puppets to tell african stories with, but my kids wanted to make stuffies instead.

We also touched on info about Genghis Khan, but I think I might have to talk about him a bit more for there to be any lasting impression.

As far as science goes, last week we talked about emulsions and we finished up our crystals.  I had the kids make crystals out of borax which worked REALLY well, but they ended up looking EXACTLY like our sugar crystal candy that was ready for them to eat that week. Thankfully we had no incidents of kids trying to eat the borax!!!

Last time I taught about emulsions and colloids, none of the kids had any clue what I was talking about by the end, so I had a few youtube videos do my teaching for me this go around, and we were all happier and smarter for the change ;)

We made fun glue art as one of our experiments.

This week's science was pretty much the lamest science of the year. It was basically "Acids are sour, here's a lemon. Basis are bitter, here's a tums."

Well, maybe not that bad, but I didn't mind the relaxed lesson myself.

Of course, perhaps one reason I was so relaxed was I had already done a huge social event that week in the form of Daniel's BIRTHDAY!  He's 7 already! He wanted a minion party, and I got out my computer and we pinterested out a pretty successful incredible Minion party!

So every week my boys go to robotics where they learn programming as well. This is a definite highlight of their week. They love it SO much. Cayleen sent me pictures to show record their efforts. THANK YOU CAYLEEN!!!

And last but not least, we went to the Family History Fair that the town put on. It was really impressive. Especially since it was put on by our tiny town. I was so amazed at all the work and accomplishment. And check out my little men who look like they came straight out of the 1900s: