Vocabulary Fun


My little one HATES vocabulary. When she sees that orange book sitting out her attitude changes drastically. She has a hard time understanding how words can have so many meanings, and I have to say the way the words are presented makes me take a double take at times. I shouldn’t have to look at the answer key for a fourth grade vocabulary book when none of the answers make sense. We can’t change the curriculum we are using so I try to make the best of it. In order to make our days run a little smoother I decided to make vocabulary time into a game. It is very simple and doesn’t require much time, but it has made vocabulary practice a little less painful at our house. What do we do? We play a game of Jeopardy.

I made a Spelling and Vocabulary Jeopardy game with just a whiteboard and a few colorful markers.  I make different categories that have to do with her spelling and vocabulary words for the week. Then she chooses a category.(She takes this part seriously and acts as if she is on the game show) I give her a list of her vocabulary words and a small whiteboard when we start.

 

After she picks her category I select a spelling or vocabulary word that falls in the category. For vocabulary I give her the definition and also use the question out of the workbook.

For example: For the vocabulary word sift I would say, “This word means to put through a strainer. People blank soil to break apart lumps.”

That way she is doing the book work and doesn’t even realize it. For spelling words I simply say the word and use it in a sentence. For the first few days I had her just spell the word out loud, but she was making a lot of simple mistakes and leaving out letters that way. Now, I have her write the word on the small whiteboard. Writing them down seems to help her spell the words correctly more often.

We keep score for fun. Each day she tries to pass the score that she got the day before. She gets two chances for each question. If she gets it right the first time, she gets full points. If she misses the first time and gets it right the second time, she gets half of the points. If she isn’t able to get the correct answer I help her figure it out and she doesn’t receive points.

She likes her daily game of Jeopardy and has a fairly good attitude when it comes to practicing her words now. I hope she continues to learn and have fun!

We no longer have to use the dreaded orange book, but we have kept up the tradition with weekly games. Now we not only practice spelling and vocabulary, but we add in science, states and capitals, and any other item we have been learning about. I use review questions out of the books and make up my own. When you get to those subjects that seem dull and boring, think outside the box and add a little fun to your school day!

Science Fun

Today my little one started the next unit in science. She will be learning about electricity and magnetism. In this unit there is at least one hands on experiment in each lesson. Today she learned about static electricity and did a very simple experiment.
First she blew up a balloon and rubbed a piece of wool on it. Then she had to place the wool next to the balloon and watch what happened. The balloon was attracted to the wool.
For the next part of the experiment she blew up another balloon. This time she rubbed both of the balloons with the wool and then placed them next to each other. The balloons repelled each other.

The next experiment involved magnets. First she placed two magnets on the table with the north poles of the magnets facing each other. The two magnets didn’t want to go together.

Next, she placed the magnets on the table with opposite sides facing each other. (One north pole and one south pole.) This time the magnets were attracted to each other.

 
The lesson learned from these two experiments was, opposite charges attract and like charges repel. She had a lot of fun playing and learning with the magnets and balloons. I have a feeling that this unit of science is going to go very well because she is a hands on learner.


The Start of a New Year

The holidays are over and it is time to start getting back into a routine. Piano lessons will be starting up again soon, gymnastics began again on Thursday, and school officially starts again tomorrow. We do school work; Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday. We started Friday to give us a jumpstart.

Between no school, me going back to work, and my leg giving me a lot of trouble our sleep schedule has really gotten out of whack. Housework and laundry have been put on the back burner and cooking just doesn’t seep to happen. Now that all has to change as we get back to our organized chaos.

We have two more weeks until the end of the first semester and we are working hard to tie up all the loose ends and finish out strong. Here is what our week has looked like so far and what we are planning the next few days.

LANGUAGE ARTS

Literature – We just finished the short novel, A Lion to Guard Us. It was about a little girl, living in England, whose mother died and father is in America in 1610. It was a good story and my little one seemed to enjoy it.

Vocabulary – This unit has words that are a lot easier so we will just be doing the book work.

Spelling – I don’t care for the workbook we have for spelling and neither does my little one. We do our own thing but I found a tick tac toe activity pack online that we have been using lately. I break her list of words into two sections and she does two activities off of the tic tac toe sheet each day. There are a few different cards to use and my little one seems to be enjoying it and remembering her words. If you are looking for a different approach to spelling check it out! This blog had a lot of neat things and ideas. http://heerenshappenings2.blogspot.com/2012/07/spelling-goodies.html

SCIENCE

We are finishing up the unit on the human body. My little one received a smart lab amazing squishy brain for Christmas. We put that together and learned a little more in-depth about the brain. We will also be taking the semester test at the end of the week.

HISTORY

We are continuing to learn about slavery and the American Civil War. We learned about Abraham Lincoln and the Gettysburg address.

ART

She learned about Paul Cezanne and made a chalk drawing of a mountain.

MATH

We are on the Algebraic thinking unit. So far she has learned how to solve equations with two variables and about the coordinate plane. We will continue to work with the coordinate planed and line segments. For a little extra practice I will be printing a few of these worksheets.

http://www.math-aids.com/Graphing/Four_Quadrant_Graphing_Characters.html

They are like a dot to dot, but you have to plot the points and then connect them. I am hoping that my little one likes them and learns in the process.

I’m wishing everyone a good start to the New Year.

We Made It Through!

We made it through the first quarter of school! My little one worked very hard and completed all of her assigned lessons and her study island lessons too. We had planned on taking it a little slower and putting more fun into school, but that didn’t exactly happen. Our teacher wants the work samples for the second quarter turned in within the first two weeks of the second quarter. That means the lap book we were going to do for science is out because with our work samples she has to do all of the worksheets and any projects that are in the lesson exactly as they are written. We will have to do that lap book on another unit. Our school requires 1 work sample per subject every quarter, but our teacher requires 2 from each subject every quarter. My little one has been working on it for a week and has completed her samples for; math, history, language arts, and art. The only ones she has left is science. Halloween is just around the corner and I wanted to throw in some holiday fun. Hopefully in the next few days we can squeeze some in. We have her pumpkin and her costume all ready. She is counting down the hours until she gets to trick or treat. This is the first year that she won’t be a princess for Halloween  She finally out grew the dresses at the Disney Store so we had to pick something different. Luckily she is easy to please and decided to be a cat. Her costume only cost us $4.96 and is really cute. I will post pictures after Halloween. I hope everyone has a safe Halloween!

Where Are We Now?

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Last year we were always ahead in every subject. We flew through spelling and vocabulary and didn’t even have to touch the math book very often. We did school four days a week and life was great. This year it is a different story. My little one is in fourth grade and the work load has gotten a lot harder. Vocabulary that should only take 40 minutes ends up taking over an hour, spelling is requiring a lot more practice time and science has become a lot more in depth. To add to all of that I was working overnights and then had to get a cast put on my foot again so our schedule has been up in the air. A lot of the “fun” aspects of school have had to be pushed to the back burner in order to get all of the main workload finished. We are behind for the first time. Not by a lot but I feel like we are playing catch up. The end of our first quarter is in a week and we are working steadily to get all of her assignments finished before that time.

One of the WONDERFUL requirements with CAVA is Study Island. It is an online test prep. She is assigned 10 topics in language arts and 10 topics in math each quarter that she has to earn a blue ribbon in. She has to go on and answer questions, usually 10 to 15 and if she scores high enough she gets a blue ribbon. The math is not a problem except they are testing her on subjects that she has not learned yet this year. She hates to read so the language arts part is like pulling teeth. The stories are very long and often there is a different story for each question. I don’t feel that this test prep is necessary, but it is a requirement so we grin and bear it. Luckily she finished the last of her study island ribbons today.

I have been working a lot more with her spelling words. She writes them more than required, plays games on the computer, and she is finally grasping them. Her favorite thing to do is write them on her white board easel. She also practices them while doing jumping jacks or stretching. We don’t do the workbook pages for the spelling curriculum because the were frustrating to both of us. In her spelling program she has to learn how to spell all of the States and learn the capitals and location of each. To help with that she is doing a lot of puzzles and completing two workbooks that I found at Target in the dollar section. They are a little young for her, but she is learning and having fun so it is fine with me.

Vocabulary has been a headache. The words and definitions are giving her problems and I do not care for the book. We are sticking it out and working on it daily even though she only is assigned it 5 times every two weeks. Practice, practice, practice is all that we can do. We will get through this.

She has been working hard in history. This year history has a lot more writing. With the curriculum we have, if the student understands the concept and can pass the test she doesn’t have to do any more work for the lesson. We tried that last year, and it didn’t work. She needs to write down the answers so that she has something to come back and study before the unit tests. Since writing is her subject that she needs the most help with writing about what she learned sometimes takes a while. It has gotten better as the year has progressed. She just finished her unit test on the constitution, American Revolution , and French Revolution and passed it with 93%.
As I said, science is a lot more in depth this year. We just started the unit on the human body and we are going to try lap booking this unit in order to bring some fun into it. She is expected to learn a lot in this unit. She normally takes notes for science but I think getting to make a project will be a lot of fun for her. It will be our first attempt at lap booking so wish us luck.
Math is her best subject. She is working on measurement right now and doing a lot of word problems converting units. She is understanding it and I don’t foresee any problems in the future.
In literature we just finished the Bible stories and now we are reading Robinson Crusoe. She has read the first six chapters and so far she likes it. Maybe we have found her type of book. She seems to like the adventure type. I just wish that she would enjoy reading as much as I did. I hope that it will come with time.

In art she is currently working on a nine patch quilt. I will post about it when she is finished with it. (It may be a while)
So we have a week to get everything done. I know we will do it, and once we do I plan to bring a little more Fun into school again.

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