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.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

"Mumma, I like writing"

Yes, you read that title right. Daniel came up to me the other day and said "Mumma I like writing."

Way to melt a mother of Dyslexic's heart.

Of course, this is what he had just written:

But hey, it's a start.

Maxwell has continued with cursive and now he's starting to write it even during Barton:

And Maxwell's math is finally starting to get tricky. He's having to figure out the areas of trapezoids by using a formula and the areas of all kinds of things by splitting them up into trapezoids, triangles, and parallelograms.

It's fascinating how they teach formulas. They make the child discover what the formula is by them selves. I can't explain it, you'll just have to look:

For history this week we learned about WWI. I was not ready to learn about WWI because of the french stuff I taught at the beginning of the year, but I decided to skip ahead and then go back to where I was, because I wanted my teaching of WWI to coincide with Remembrance day.

We Read an AWESOME book:

It's a "You Choose" book where there are three story lines and over 20 endings. Hyrum LOVED it. He was so proud that he didn't die. (Maxwell died, and Daniel's lungs got damaged from poisoned gas.)

I thought this book was an excellent time to teach the three perspectives of writing (First, Second, and Third) because it's written in Second perspective by using "You did this, You thought that." After that, Hyrum started calling it the "Number Two Book" and carried it everywhere he went.

When we went to a picnic with family, a couple teenagers picked it up and intently began reading. All of the sudden you would hear "Oh Man, I died!!"

Hyrum found out that I have five more of these type of books, but I told him he would just have to wait until we learn those subjects.  Hehehe, I love it when my kids love learning!

Anyway, Sidney did Remembrance day justice. With a parade, a flyover, and a memorial service.

I went through more emotions then usual because of our study of WWI. I went through each stanza of "Flander's Fields" with my boys, explaining it, and when we got to the part where it says "take up our quarrel with the foe," Daniel said "But why? WWI was so pointless."  In my heart I agreed with him. I told him how often there are wars with good causes and that we need to stand up to bullies, but really I thought, war is just so pointless.

I also finally told them about my mom's father. He lied about his age so he could join WWI. Look how little he looks:

I told them how the war broke his brain and that when he came back, he was a horrible man. My boys didn't really understand. Grandma T is their favourite person. How could her Papa be bad? Daniel, with big eyes said "You mean sometimes he was rude?" Oh sweet innocent boy. I wish you could stay so innocent.

Well, we also continue to have fun here in our oceanfront house. Here's us during one of our mid-day breaks:

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Moving the Dickens out of us

We're here! We're in Victoria (well, technically we are in Sidney, but when I say that, everyone wonders if I've gone to Australia.)

We've moved into a vacation rental that has the ocean as our back yard. Check out this photo I took from my WINDOW!

It is so amazing to look out our windows and see seals and Canadian Geese and the marina. However, everyone who comes over says "Wow, this is an awesome house" when they are looking OUT of out windows, not as they look IN the house.

I can guess that this is the story of this house: Grandma died, they cleaned it, and put it up as a vacation rental. Leaving ALL of Grandma's knick knacks and china, and doilies and scrapbooks right where Grandma left them.

My sister Danette (THANK YOU!!) came over to help us move in, and we loaded about ten bins full of Grandma's treasures up to the attic. (I am not being cluttered and risking my children breaking things for four months!)

The best thing about moving is starting life out fresh and new. Leaving behind bad habits and beginning good habits.

The major thing we've decided to do, is to break the day into TWO work periods. We work/school in the morning until about 12. Then we adventure until about 2-3. And then we work/school until evening.

We've gotten family passes to the recreation centre near us because everyone (but me) LOVES swimming. It's one thing we do in our "adventure" time. (Sometimes I stay behind with the littles.)

Another thing that Dustin has committed to doing is to learn French. He's hired a tutor to come three times a week, and he's on rossetta stone and memrize and being very studious. I hate learning languages, but after being in Africa, I can see why he promised the students there that he would learn it, and I will's very intimidating to me!

Also, we wake up an hour earlier. Dustin's work starts an hour earlier because of the time zone change, and I want more time in my life, so we all wake up (thank goodness for the time change today to make it easier!)

We are doing things now that I never felt we had time for. Namely......MEDITATION!

I am so proud of myself! I have been meaning to have this part of our routine FOREVER and now we do! This book makes it super simple:

Although, I have to admit this is how it's been going:

Feel the air you breath fill your body


let it leave you as you relax...


as you relax every muscle


you can feel the calmness envelope you


um, yah we have a long way to go. But they're pretty cute:

I've also gotten serious about teaching William. He's so cute, and his teaching is just reading and fun. I haven't started handwriting yet because I'm waiting for some supplies to come.

And while I'm teaching William, my boys are WRITING. I always thought "oh heavens, they are having such a hard time reading, writing can wait" and they only did the writing that was in their reading and spelling programs. But really, having them do free lance writing helps their reading! I let them do inventive spelling and they can write about whatever they want, and it's already been a good experience.

Surprisingly enough, the one who's gotten into writing the most has been Hyrum! He is writing long after I'm done teaching William and he labels his writing with "Chapters."

However, his writing has TONS of inventive spelling so far.

Maxwell is not writing as much, but his spelling is good, although his writing certainly doesn't show his intelligence level.

Here you can see him practicing his signature in cursive. He gets up even earlier then us (he's always been a morning person) and practices cursive in his cursive book. He was SO proud when he had to actually use his signature on a document. We are getting him a passport, and he LOVES the thought of his signature on it.

So overall, this move has been a good thing, but it was stressful getting it all together. I'm sad to not be in Cardston for all the classes. We hardly got any art lessons in this year. But they loved the ones they did do.

That's a hawk.

However, there are lessons here too. Grandma McKay is giving Canadian history classes once a week. These are just for older kids, and she is including Maxwell, and testing out Hyrum. They enjoyed their first week where there was a rendezvous.

I haven't started my science class yet, and my Sala nieces were SCANDALIZED by my heart picture from the other week. Hahahha well, they might not like my class after all.

And as far as history goes, it''s been all about Charles Dickens (why I titled this post that way,) child labor, Alexander Graham Bell, and Teddy Roosevelt.

We had learned about Charles Dickens before we left mostly. We read all these books:

I love these books. I plan on reading the unabridged version of Christmas Carrol with them when it's closer to Christmas.  The treehouse book tells about the Christmas Carrol, and Hyrum got all excited that insisted that there was a "Teen Titans Go" episode about it that we HAD to watch....uh, yah, it was VERY loosely connected.

We've been talking about child labour through learning about Dickens, and then we focused on the Newsies strike. There's a cute book "Kid Blink Beats the World" that goes over the true story and then we watched....

Oh man, I still love this movie!

The Newsies movie had Teddy Roosevelt in it, so it was an easy segway into learning about him. Holy cammoly, a lot of the stuff we read about sounded like fiction until we read it in more then one book. What a fascinating guy! His animals in the white house! My kids love the Teddy Bear story.

And we studied Alexander Graham Bell. While we read about him, I had my kids do the craft I had meant them to do forever ago. Decoupage with Victorian paintings.

Alexander Graham Bell fills me with mixed emotions. He believed in eugenics, which I find deplorable, but what I don't know how to wrap my mind around is his work with the deaf.

I have three friends with deaf kids, and they all think he is the devil. Deaf communities often think poorly about lip reading, voice speaking and cochlear implants. In fact, they are usually discouraged. They have their own culture within their own communities and rejoice when someone else is deaf.

Bell (whose mom went deaf and who married a deaf girl) whole point was to get deaf people into "normal" society. He discouraged sign language, taught voice speaking and lip reading, and would tie deaf people's hands behind their backs to force them to use their voice.

I have no idea what to think about all that, and I guess that's where I'll leave it: unresolved.

But I did refuse to read the last paragraph in the book I was reading to my kids about how the deaf community is grateful to him, because they (most of them) aren't.

ANYWAY moving on.....


Daniel is practicing long addition:

And Hyrum is learning how to do long multiplication.

I was so proud of him. I asked him in a story problem to multiply 7 by 12, and he did it his own way correctly!

See how he realized he needed to find the ones and the tens and add them? Genius.

Here in this worksheet you can see how they are having him add the same number a lot to get him ready for long multiplication:

Maxwell's math is still fairly easy. Here he was learning to label polygons by their vertices.

And last but not least, it was HALLOWEEN! I love this holiday! We carved pumpkins. Daniel made an R2D2 (with a little bit....uh a lot....of help from mom) and Maxwell's is the death star.

And of course MAXWELL made the R2D2 costume for Daniel which won a costume contest back in Cardston!

And there was the trunk or treat and Sidney bonfire and fireworks: