The last couple of weeks, I’ve made some changes to how I am assigning the boys their work. We’ve tried using various methods (workboxes, STARS journals, various binders and lists, to name a few), but nothing has really stuck. Partially, I think I was pushing too hard for too much independence before they were ready, but now that they’re older, we’re trying some more self-paced scheduling.
Last week, I printed their assignments and gave the pages to the boys and allowed them to work at their own pace. Loverly Husband was off Friday (home DIY-ness related), so the understanding was that if they got all their work accomplished for the week before Friday, they could have Friday off. While they didn’t quite hit that goal, overall, this method was successful, so we’re trying it again this week.
I usually plan 3-4 weeks at a time, but having them knowing what’s on the schedule for the week is nice. In the past, LBB especially, has gotten overwhelmed with seeing everything laid out, but he’s able to focus on one day at a time and work neatly with the week’s schedule (thank goodness!!) – that’s an ADHD/anxiety success!
In other news, we’ve been busy with our homeschool group – the Houston Children’s Museum held their homeschool day a couple of weeks ago, and we had a great time! They have this child-sized city called ‘Kidtropolis‘ that has samples of real life – all kinds of jobs, including: a TV station, a postal service, a bank, a grocery store, city hall, police/fire/EMS, restaurant, vet – the kids can ‘work’ and get ‘paid’, make deposits at the bank, ‘buy’ things at the store, change jobs… it’s really neat. This was the first time that either of my kids really made an effort to experience it. LBB started working in the restaurant, and was eventually promoted to manager. It was fun watching him ‘work’ with all the other kids.
We also dabbled in some folk art while out at the park. The kids used glue and paints to faux-batik pillowcases. PeaGreen was pretty happy with his rendition of Link from Legend of Zelda, while LBB was less enthused about the entire project. Still, he managed a decent representation of the Destiny logo.
We’ve been using Khan Academy for math, and after some initial trepidation, we’ve established a routine with it and it’s working well. Basically, the boys are ‘learning’ each new concept by watching the video. Then working through the ‘practice’ sessions, and then competing each section with a ‘mastery challenge’. Questions and concepts do come back up even though they’ve mastered them, so it’s keeping skills in the rotation, which is nice. The boys are spending about 5 hours per week on math, which is good at this stage. It was taking them a bit longer, but they’ve gotten the hang of doing it this way now, and it’s nice. I love that I am not having to ‘teach’ it – when they get stuck, we watch the video together (because I am often just as lost as they are), so we talk it out and work through the problems together, then they continue working on their own.
I think that having such a central subject taken off of my plate has helped me get a handle on things. I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed with middle school curriculum – math is so not my area of expertise, so being able to pass that off to more qualified ‘teachers’ is awesome. Plus, I think that it’s helped the boys be more independent and not rely so much on me.
Last but not least, this is the boys’ new bathroom! Loverly Husband spent this weekend ripping out the floor and walls and replacing everything from sub-flooring to fixtures. We had bathroom wallboard in there, but it wasn’t sealed very well, so water has been seeping behind it, and rotted out the floor and a lot of the wood underneath the wallboard. It was totally nasty in there. But thanks to all his hard work, it looks great! We bought a new shower curtain and will be painting soon and it will be all done. I absolutely could not be happier that the floor and bathtub surround are done though.
So basically, nothing that we’ve had planned for the last couple of weeks has panned out. After PeaGreen’s birthday party, I have been exhausted and have wanted nothing more than to crawl into bed and stay there. Though that’s not practical, staying home a lot really has been, and that’s mostly what we’ve been doing.
To save time, I’m going to lump the last 2 weeks all together in one post. Just for kicks, I’ll add what we’d planned, and then what we actually did so you can see exactly how much I have not been in the mood to do things lately.
Monday & Tuesday –
Lactation Course for me so the kids went to Grammie’s house. She brought them to Tennis Camp Monday. Tuesday, she took them to Tennis Camp in the morning and to a ‘learn to draw cartoons’ class in the afternoon.
Nope. Plans changed. The lactation course I was going to take still happened, but I didn’t go since the group I was going with decided to go another route. I’m happy about the change! Monday morning we still had kids over from the birthday bash, so I slept in while various parents came to claim their kidlets. I almost felt bad for sleeping in, but not bad enough to actually get up. Sorry about that, parents! The afternoon was spent cleaning up from said bash (which wasn’t too bad – we have delightful friends who helped to clean up the night before, which is amazing – THANK YOU!!).
Tuesday, Red Butler and Huckleberry Pie came for the day while Bridey was taking her nursing test (which she totally passed – Congratulations!!). The kids and I spent the day in the pool and accidentally missed the drawing class. When I realized it was already over, I was mildly upset, but figured we’d catch another one eventually.
Tennis and SPAR SPAR, though cheap was out of our budget this week. Some of the families in our homeschool group went, but we didn’t. The kids and I agreed that we’d been having so much company, and been on the go so much that we needed a break, so we had a lazy day… for the rest of the week.
Sunday, we had another Spiral Scouts event – our first one since being chartered! The kids made their neck cords and we made a bunch of huge messes with science experiments. We made Oobleck (cornstarch and water), Moon Sand (flour & baby oil), GAK! (school glue & borax) and elephant toothpaste, which kinda fizzled out. But the kids had a great time!
Monday – Tennis Camp
& Mom Craft day Almost crafting… my sister and SmurfMom came over to chat for a while. My sister dropped Appleberry off for the day, but SmurfMom was without child so that she and I could work on lesson planning for the coming school year.
Tuesday actually went off without a hitch. Everything we’d planned went according to, and we had a great day. SmurfMom and my sister dropped their respective children off at my house, then we met some other friends at the movies to see the classic Willie Wonka (with the amazing Gene Wilder as creepy as ever in the titular role). After the movie, we headed out to the library for a summer reading club craft. The flyer said ‘sand sculptures’, which I took to mean that a sand sculpture artist would be on had to show off his/her craft and teach the kids a bit about actual sand sculpting. We were all disappointed to find out that they’d had sand brought in and the kids were just building sand castles on the porch. In any case, fun was still to be had; the kids enjoyed popsicles and lemonade outside, then we went in for some books.
Tennis & riverboat tour w/ TH
Tennis, Lego club, karate
Geography Fair & hike & swim and boys to Brideys to spend the night
karate and edible book fair
No to all of that… we were been homebodies much of last week. Over the weekend, Loverly Husband replaced our front door, and then ended up repairing our dishwasher (our NEW dishwasher), and I’ve been saying for months now that I was going to get the school room cleared out so we can use it again. I finally got started on that, which led to more intense lesson-planning for the coming school year. As ‘small’ as that may sound, it’s taken up basically all of my time over the last week (watch for a post soon about that). What time wasn’t spent on school was spent getting a new ‘command center’ ready so that hopefully, with more organization, I can lessen the stress in my life where it’s related to family and chores. I’ll keep you posted on that!
In any case, we’re still hanging in there – maybe not as exciting as we might otherwise be, but I’m planning on taking it easy for the next couple of weeks because school starts August 5th!
and things are going well.
We have been hitting the books pretty hard; there are serious dents in the boys’ workbooks, which makes me insanely happy. I know that it ‘shouldn’t’, and that seeing piles of completed work doesn’t equal learning… but still, something about seeing those stacks of completed assignments (or at least grades in the computer) makes me feel like we’ve accomplished more than when I don’t see those things. Some habits are hard to break, I guess.
Anyway – if the boys keep moving at the pace they’ve set, then they’ll be done with this ‘year’ by December. I am in no rush, and we won’t start the new grade until I am sure they’re ready. For a bit, I thought that was a reasonable goal, but we really need to work on multiplication tables with PeaGreen, and LBB is into fractions with mixed numbers, so we’re camping out in those areas for the time being. We finally got the hang of GCF and LCM… so maybe things will be moving along soon.
Next up: decimals! (can you feel the excitement??)
We’ve pretty much combined Grammar, Spelling and Reading this year (as subjects). We’re still notebooking (Beethoven is our current notebooking project), and lapbooking (Minerals (on hiatus), The Continents, a Weather unit, and SOTW II (about to go on hiatus so we can work the Ancient Rome, Viking Adventure & Ancient Greece lapbooks from HomeschoolShare). I’ll have new pages up on those lapbooks when we’re done; almost all of those use templates from HomeschoolShare.com, but I’ve either changed or added things to them (of my own or from other places) to bring them up to the boys’ level.
I am really liking the ‘unit study’ theme and am considering bringing that concept more into play in January. There are several books I’d like to go through, but I would like the pressure off to complete ‘grade level’ work before we delve too much into them. When the boys were younger, we did FiveInARow, and I *loved* that… in the past year or so, we’ve strayed from CM-style learning and I am ready to get more into literature-based work again. I am considering getting Beyond Five in a Row as a guide for January.
Field trips are back in full swing as well. We’ve gone on a 2.2 mile hike and swim with our homeschool group, and had planned to hit the water park this past week, only to find out that they all closed over the weekend. I am bummed about that – summer is NOT over yet, even if school has begun for the majority of districts. We made up for it with a trip to a local sprinkler park (with thankfully remains open through September).
In other news, the boys both tested for their yellow belts in karate, and passed! Shamrocks and I will be testing in October (him for orange and me for yellow). I’ve noticed a definite improvement in my stamina over the last few months – I am much stronger now than I was when I started training.
Hmmm… oh – Minecraft. My kids (an I) are all addicted. So, rather than fight it, we’re using it. One way we’re incorporating gaming into education is by graphing out a building plan on graph paper and then building it in Minecraft. We play on XBox 360, and since it’s just me and the boys, it is less distracting (we don’t play online). We’re just creating simple designs at this point, but we will be creating more grand constructions in the future, and building cooperatively. There are also ideas at EduRealms.com that I’d like to try. It’s a little redundant for my boys (the journaling part will be new though). I am considering having them keep track of their resources on a daily basis (collected, used, lost, traded) when we start journaling as well. they both have created multiple servers and explored multiple seeds with different biomes… so they definitely get the creative and cooperative side to the game. As addictions go, this isn’t one I am complaining about.
We’ve also started another kitchen project – water kefir. So far, we’ve made strawberry lemonade and fruit punch and they’re super yummy! We usually drink water or tea (and we all know that this Mommy is a coffee fiend!), so this is a welcome alternative. It’s also a fun science lesson – watching the kefir grow and seeing the differences in taste after 24/48/36 hour fermentations.
Some other things we’ve been up to:
- school pictures (which I will have to update and post later since I am not at the right computer) – also part of the NBTS Blog Hop (that I am late in participating on).
(edited to add:
- I also added this year’s school pictures t the ‘school days’ frame that we have for each other boys (instead of keeping the pictures on my desk for 6 months, watching them get raggedy and worn before adding them to the frame).
- As always with picture-time, I made this year’s homeschool ID cards and educator ID card for myself, as well as homeschool group ID cards for the parents in our homeschool group, and updated my educator accounts with Barnes & Noble, JoAnn’s, School Aids, Office Depot… all those discounts add up!!
- I re-vamped the kids’ workboxes (which I think I already posted about, but will make a proper post of in the future).
- I’m about to embark on a massive household purge – I picked up a few super cheap clothes for the boys, then got home and realized that we’ve never cleaned out the too-smalls from the last few months. So between that and the piles of books that I’ve been hoarding, I seriously need to de-clutter (but then again, I always say that, don’t I?)
- …. I think that’s about it for now.
Hope your school year is off to a wonderful (and productive) start!