Art

Art through the k12 program isn’t just coloring and gluing things. It is a lot of art history. In forth grade she is learning about famous artists who painted President George Washington and about scientific art. Below there are two of the projects she worked on. In the first one she had to draw an insect that was symmetrical. She couldn’t get the picture the way she wanted so we changed up the lesson. She cut a butterfly out of construction paper, and then put drops of paint on one side. She folded the butterfly in half and rubbed her hand over the paper so the paint would spread. Then when she opened it she saw that it was symmetrical on both sides. After it dried she glued it to another piece of paper.

The next picture is a replica of Washington Crossing the Delaware. She had to study the piece and then do her best to make her own. I think she did very well. Although I really enjoy the art program, there are times when I wish she would get to do more kid friendly projects. That is where supplementing with my own crafts and projects comes in.

Science Fun

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We have finally gotten through the boring parts of science and are onto the fun ones according to my 9 year old. We are working on the third unit, Chemistry of Solutions. She has been learning the difference between mixtures and solutions and solutes and solvents. Every lesson so far has had at least one experiment to go with it and she has enjoyed every bit.

In one lesson she had to mix drink mix, sand, and cooking oil with water to see which ones made a mixture and which ones made a solution.

In another lesson she had to see if different solvents that dissolved in water would dissolve in soapy water, vinegar, alcohol, or cooking oil.

Another experiment she did was to see if whole or crushed sugar cubed dissolved faster and if shaking them or stirring them made them dissolve faster or slower.

A fun experiment she just did was to learn about concentration and dilution. She had to make up some drink mix and poor it into six cups. Then she added water to five of them, a little in the first and a lot in the last. She pored the solutions into ice cube trays and later tasted to see the difference between the regular drink mix and the diluted ones.

She has learned a lot from these experiments and they didn’t take too long or cost too much. Most of the items we had available in our kitchen. In fact, the only things that I had to buy special were the sugar cubes and the drink mix. I like that there are so many hands on lessons to help her learn. She is definitely one that learns by doing not by seeing.

Park Day

A few weeks after school started CAVA (California Virtual Academy) had Park Day. We went to a park near our home and got to meet with other parents, students and teachers that attend the same program. It only lasted for about an hour and a half but we had a nice time. There were Popsicles and juice for the kids, and each family received a blue toat bag. While we were there the kids (and some parents) got a Get to Know you Paper. The idea was to walk around and talk with other people, then have them sign their name on your paper. Then when you filled out the paper everyone clapped and cheered. There were places for things like “has river rafted before” to “likes the color purple” it was a great ice breaker and got everyone talking. After a lot of people had filled out their papers the kids played in the park area. My little one met a little boy who is in her same grade and attends the live online classes with her. They played for a while and had a nice time. Now every time she sees his name on the computer she says that he is one of her friends. Overall it was a nice day and not too hot.

We also found a nice park that we didn’t even know about before. We plan on utilizing it a lot during the school year.

Writing with a Reluctant Writer

 

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I don’t know about anyone else but my 9 year old hates to write for school. She loves to doodle, make shopping lists and copy her favorite books but don’t ask her to write for school. There will be tears and attitude issues. She has a ton of ideas but always tries to change things up to write the least amount possible.

Last year she worked on Writing in Action levels A and B and I think she learned a lot. It breaks up writing into small steps and doesn’t force a lot of writing at one time. This year she will complete volumes C and D. The first unit was all about descriptive writing. She had to go outside and write down what she felt, heard, saw and smelled. Then she had to come inside and write all about it. She really liked the process and her finished composition ended up being the first work sample that she turned into her teacher.

Writing is the one subject that we take step by step. We usually work on her compositions for the full 40 minutes, and sometimes even longer.  I have found that dry erase markers make everything better when it comes to writing. She makes a story web on the small dry erase board and then writes her first draft from there. The thesaurus is her best friend! She loves to look up words and find a better words to replace them with. She just learned how to use it last year, and now whenever we write she gets it without being told.

Along with the writing in her composition, there is a lot of writing in the literature program as well. I don’t always make her write everything down. Sometimes we will discuss the questions and answers, sometimes she writes them, and other times I let her type them. We are quite away into the literature program, it is something we do daily. We just finished the poetry unit and I would like to share the poem that she wrote. She had to write a poem that taught a lesson of some type and she decided to write the following.

Bath Time
Once there was a little girl who didn’t want to take a bath
She thought the water would gobble her up
So she wouldn’t take a bath for 40 days
And her skin turned a million colors of gray
Peanut butter stuck to her hands
Mud stuck to her feet
Ticks climbed and scratched her ears
Spiders crept out of her nose
She smelled like rotten eggs
And her friends had to hold their nose
No one wanted to play with her
Until one day her friends got a hose
Her hands were no longer sticky
Her feet were sparkly clean
Her skin went back to tan
Her friends were no longer mean
She decided it was better to take a bath
The water didn’t gobble her up
And now she smelled like flowers
So her friends played with her for hours
I think that she did a good job. Last year poetry was a hard subject because she is a very literal thinker. It has been a slow process letting her know that she can write things that don’t make sense and that she has to have imagination when reading and writing poetry. I look forward to more poems from her in the future. Good luck to all of you with reluctant writers.

The Official First Week

Although we have been doing school work for the last two weeks, school officially started on Thursday. So far it has been a good start. There were the foreseen problems with the school website and she still can’t get into her Spanish class but overall our days have gone fairly smooth.

 

She has been working very hard on history and geography. Those happen to be a favorite of hers this year. Grammar isn’t her favorite but she has been doing her best.

 

This week we did a few fun activities to help with learning. We are working on fractions so we decided to do some gummy bear math. She counted the amount of bears in a bag of gummy bears, then found out the fraction of each color. After doing that she did the same thing on a second bag and compared her results. Both bags had the most red and green and the fewest clear. Then I showed her how to find the percentage and she made a circle graph. None of this work was actually in her curriculum but it goes with what she is learning and she had a lot of fun.

Spelling practice isn’t always the best part of the day so we switched things up a little bit. I put shaving cream on the table and she wrote the words there. She thought that that was a lot of fun. I think we will do that a little more often.

We work Saturday to Wednesday so the first day of school we didn’t do any real work. We did go over spelling words and multiplication facts but that was it. Instead we went out to lunch. No boring cafeteria food for us.

Our week was successful. We completed most of what we had planned and started her scantron test. That is a test she takes twice a year to see her learning level. It is an online adaptive test that takes a while so we do it in small chunks. We will more than likely finish the math tomorrow and the reading on Sunday.

The work this year is of coarse a little harder but she seems to be doing well. We are having a little problem with her vocabulary words so I am going to try and find some fun ways to practice them.

I hope next week is as successful as this week has been. How can you pass up getting to say in comfy pjs, eating good food and having fun while learning? We will see what next week brings.

A Day in Our Homeschool

Classroom?

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The perks of schooling at home include the ability to do school when and where you want. We do school in the car, at the doctors, at grandma’s house and all over our house. We often do science experiments on the patio or in the kitchen and do literature assignments in the living room. My little one can not be trusted to do any work in her room so that is the one room in the house that is off limits.

With five people living in our house keeping school supplies in the living room or kitchen was just not a logical solution for us so by process of elimination “school things” are kept in my bedroom. I have a small room so storage and organization is a must. I have a seven drawer cart that I have had for years. It has some of my stuff along with extra school and craft supplies. I also have a small filing cabinet where I keep school samples and my personal paperwork. Of course have a computer, printer, and desk. We use it daily to complete school assignments. This year I bought a five shelve book case from Target. The bottom two shelves have my books, movies and some supplemental learning material for the year. The middle shelf has flash cards, reference books, and daily supplies. This shelf also has a little caddy with my grading materials. Those include some stickers, ink pads and a lot of stamps. The next shelf has her books and notebooks for the year. The top shelf has science and art materials along with snacks for snack time. The top shelf is covered by two red card charts. One has her spelling words and the other has her vocabulary words and there is a multiplication chart on the wall. She uses a small black table to do most of her daily work. The table is nice because it is bigger than a T.V. tray yet it is east to move to other areas of the house.

On the closet door there are two maps, throughout the year we will add facts to the door to help her remember new concepts. Today we added the definition of latitude and longitude.

On the main door to my room we have a parts of speech poster and a dry erase monthly calendar. We do not use it as a calendar but as a lesson list. (*we didn’t end up using it very long, since our plans seemed to change daily) All of her lessons that need to be completed for the week are listed up there and when they are finished I mark them off.

Our school area is not as nice as a lot of other peoples, but it works for us. We were able to take a small space and fit both a bedroom and a schoolroom. With only one child at home this area seems to work very well for us. Everything is organized and I can find what I need. Now who knows if it will stay that way…..

Back to School

School officially starts on Thursday and we are ready. This year my little one will still be with California Virtual Academy. It is an online public school that is done at home. It is not home school but it is school at home. We have an assigned teacher who monitors our progress and we still take standardized tests. For us it is the best option. She is in fourth grade this year.
What are we learning about this year?

Fourth Grade Math Plus Red (5 times a week)

We started this course last year because she finished her third grade math early. The units we have left are

  1. Lines Angles and Rotations
  2. Fraction Sense
  3. Measurement
  4. Fraction Operations
  5. Decimals and Equality with Fractions
  6. Probability and Data
  7. Mathematical Reasoning
  8. Geometry
  9. Rational Numbers
  10. Algebra Thinking
  11. Perimeter and Area Formulas

Math is one of my little one’s favorite subjects. If she had her way we would do math all day. I am looking forward to watching her work with and understand fractions and decimals. We will more than likely supplement math with a lot of hands on projects. This year we are also going to do one word problem every morning. That is that area in math that she struggles with a little bit. I figure if we do a little extra work on them every morning she will become more comfortable with them.

Science 4 (twice a week)

We also completed the first unit of this course last year.  We still have the following units left to complete

  1. Plant and Animal Interaction
  2. Chemistry of Solutions
  3. Forces in Fluids
  4. The Human Body
  5. Classification of Invertebrates
  6. Electricity and Magnetism
  7. Rocks and Minerals
  8. Weathering, Erosion, and Deposition
  9. Fossils and Geologic Time

Science is her second favorite subject. We received a lot of neat materials for science. There seems to be a lot of hand on projects for this course. We will supplement science with the magic school bus videos. My little one loves those movies.

History 4 (Three times a week)

We will start this course from the beginning. It starts where third grade history left off at the Revolutionary war. In the beginning of last year my little one did not like history at all, but about the second quarter she started to really get into it. She is excited to start this course. Here are the units we will cover this year.

  1. Finding Your Way around the World (geography)
  2. The Scientific Revolution
  3. Two Democratic Revolutions
  4. Latin American Revolutions
  5. The Industrial Revolution
  6. The Growth of Nations
  7. The Age of Imperialism
  8. Can Do! An Age of Breakthroughs and Enterprise
  9. Mostly Hard Times: War, the Roaring 20s, and Depression
  10. World War 2
  11. Rebuilding a Better World

I don’t plan on supplementing much in history. This is something we will take a week at a time and if she is not understanding something we can always switch things up.

Art 4 (twice a week)

Art and history go together. If she is learning about early America in history the art project or artist she learns about will be from the same period. Here is what we will be learning about in art.

  1. The building Blocks of Art
  2. Making History
  3. The Romantics and the Realists
  4. Making a good Impression
  5. Breaking the Mold
  6. Modern Views of the Man Made World
  7. Modern Views of the Natural World
  8. What’s New?

We received a lot of paint for art, and she got a new easel for her birthday so I foresee a lot more painting this year.

Literature 4 ( five times a week)

This is the hardest subject and least liked for my little one. She hates to read anything that she has to read. Now when bed time comes all she wants to do is read. We are switching things up this year and my mom will be reading the Literature stories with her. Hopefully that will make this part of our day a little easier.
She will read a lot of stories along with the following books.

  1. Charlotte’s Web
  2. A lion to Guard Us
  3. Little House on the Prairie
  4. In the Year of the Bore and Jackie Robinson
  5. Robinson Crusoe
  6. Pollyanna

The stories all teach an element of language arts along with reading comprehension.

Spelling 4 ( five times a week)

I am a bad speller if it were not for spell check I would not write anything. I honestly had my last spelling list in third grade so although this may make me sound dumb I will be learning the spellings of some of the words along with my little one.  Her spelling lists are broke up in the following way.

  1. Words that follow the rule
  2. Words with prefixes
  3. Related words
  4. Spelling Dangers
  5. Proper Nouns

She will have 22 words a week. She will also learn how to spell the names of all 50 states along with knowing where they are located on the map and the name of their capital. We have been working on states and capitals over the summer in the hopes that it will help this year. She has actually learned a lot of them.

GUM 4 – Grammar usage and mechanics ( three times a week)

In this course she will go deeper into some of the things she learned last year and learn new skills as well. The units she will be working on are listed below.

  1. Review and Sentences
  2. Punctuation and Capitalization 1 &2
  3. Nouns
  4. Pronouns
  5. Adjectives
  6. Verbs 1, 2, &3
  7. Adverbs
  8. Word Study Letter Writing

Composition 4 (5 times every 2 weeks)

I love the composition course, it teaches writing in a step by step way that she really understands. Last year she did the Writing in Action volumes A and B. This year she will do volumes C and D. She hates to write and this year she will have to take the fourth grade writing test in March so we will be doing extra writing practice on the side. I think each day she will write for 10 to 15 min on a topic that I give. I hope it will get her use to writing what someone tells her to. She will be learning the following this year.  

  1. Guided Journal Entries
  2. Writing a Report
  3. Writing a Book Review
  4. Poetry
  5. Writing to a Prompt
  6. Persuasive Report
  7. News Articles
  8. Writing a Play

Vocabulary Workshop Level Orange ( three times a week)

She has a different vocabulary book this year and the words seem a little harder. We will be practicing them a lot more, on the trampoline, while jumping rope and while in the car. I also want to have her learn how to study independently as well.

Test Readiness

We will not start the test prep books until closer to the state tests, she doesn’t like them but it is part of being in the virtual school.

Spanish Elementary 2

This is a course through Power Speak. It is all on line and she works on it five times a week. She really enjoyed it last year and learned a lot.

We are geared up and ready for a new year of learning.

Tests

One of the requirements for CAVA is that the student takes the scantron test in reading and math at the beginning and end of the school year. This was our first year and being that my little one hates to take tests with a passion, I was a little nervous. The test at the beginning of the year started in math with basic addition and subtraction. It gets progressively harder with the more right answers you get, and once you get to a point where you can’t answer any more questions the test ends. At the beginning of the year her test ended once division was introduced. She hadn’t learned how to divide so I wasn’t too surprised. Today the test started with division, then division with remainders, then adding fractions. A lot of the questions seemed similar to the questions she was unable to answer at the beginning of the year. She was able to answer most of the questions with ease. I was caught in one of those WOW moments. She is learning and is making progress. I didn’t like the idea about taking the test at the beginning of the year when she had not learned the material, but seeing such a difference when she took the test today was amazing. I am anxious to see her results. This experience in a virtual school has been wonderful. Not every day is great but life is a learning experience and I believe she is learning a lot.

*** An update
We got the test results back and it showed she is now above the district and national averages in both math and reading. On her reading test she even answered all of the fourth and fifth grade questions correctly. I am so glad that I have been able to teach her at home she has grown and learned so much this year.

School days

a2 Isn’t is amazing when you look at the work your child needs to learn and you think it is going to be a hard concept for them to grasp, and they understand it fairly easily? I was dreading the lesson today on the water cycle and the carbon cycle. I even searched online to see if I could find a kid friendly way to approach the carbon cycle. I thought the lesson she was going to complete was a little complex. I didn’t need to do that! I sat down with my third grader and we read through the lesson. I explained a few things that I had assumed she was taught in previous years, she didn’t know that we breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide or that plants use the carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. Once she understood that point the lesson was fine. She was able to do the workbook page, and pass the test. I was quite happy. 

I never realized how much science she was retaining just from watching the Magic School Bus videos.

 

As far as the water cycle she already knew about that.  As we were going over the diagram she explained how it all worked. When I asked her how she knew that she exclaimed, “Miss Frizzle taught me!” For those who don’t know, Miss Frizzle is from the Magic School Bus. She has the books and videos and loves to watch them over and over. I was glad to see she was really learning and understanding. I know that the videos aren’t exactly accurate, but they give a great introduction to science.

We were able to complete quite a few lessons today. She did one math lesson, two history lessons, one science, three literature lessons, and Spanish. She completed that in a little under four hours which is NOT normal for her. In Literature she was reading a nonfiction book that she found easy to read and understand, so for once literature was not a fight. I only hope tomorrow goes as well.

Getting ready for Monday

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As sit in my room going over the work that my third grader needs to complete next week, I realized that I have lost MY room. She does school all over the house, but my room is the home base.  My bookshelf that use to have my books is now full of The Magic School Bus, Stone Fox, Jr. novels, dictionaries, and thesauruses. I have tubs with pencils, markers, crayons, glue, glitter, and paint stacked all around. There is a map of the USA and a map of the world, along with a multiplication chart. There are hand made posters about the water cycle and American Indians. There are papers all over and a schedule for next week hanging up. It is amazing how my room has changed in less than a year, but I know that she is learning a lot and so am I.  
Here is what is on the list this week

  • Math – the distributive property and order of operations
  • Science – the carbon cycle, water cycle, and changing environmental conditions
  • History – learning more about the original 13 colonies and the Boston Tea Party
  • Literature – reading non fiction, fact verses opinion, and the Declaration of Independence
  • Art- learning about the Incas gold and cloth
  • Spanish – another week of lessons last week she learned foods and drinks
  • Language skills – Finished for the year!!!

I am ready for a week of teaching, I hope she is ready for a week of learning.