Where Are We Now?

Post Contains Affiliate Links

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.

Oak Glen

Living in Southern California gives us a lot of options for day trips. We have numerous theme parks, beaches, mountains and fun places to visit all around us. We decided to take a trip to Oak Glen. Up at Oak Glen there are apple farms, unique shops and restaurants and a lot of fun entertainment. We have been to Oak Glen a lot before so we have our favorite places. The people are always friendly and the atmosphere is great. We went the day before the season started so not everything was open yet. There is a lot more to do but this is how we spent our day.

We started our trip at Snow Line orchards. There we tasted different kinds of homemade apple cider and different types of apples. They had apple cider, raspberry apple cider, and cherry apple cider. We love anything cherry flavor but the whole family agreed that the raspberry flavor was the best. Everyone had a favorite apple and it was neat to see how one fruit could have so many different tastes. They also sell homemade doughnuts and sell a lot of old fashion toys. You also have the chance to pick your own raspberries. When we went we paid $12 and got to fill three baskets full of the raspberries. A kind gentleman took us to the raspberries, showed us how to tell if they were ripe and helped us pick a few. Then we were able to pick as many as we could fit in the baskets.

My little one didn’t enjoy this part too much. There were a few bees around so she didn’t want anything to do with picking the berries. It was a lot of fun though. Good thing she wasn’t born on a farm she would never make it. After we picked the raspberries and bought a gallon of cider we hopped in the car and drove down a little farther to Wildlands conservancy. We didn’t do much here but shop. We found chocolate covered sun flower seeds and nuts.

My little one found a few little trinkets that she liked too. After we shopped we sat in the rocking chairs in front of the store and enjoyed the view. Then it was off to the Oak Tree Village.

The Oak Tree Village was not completely open for the season when we went, but it was still and enjoyable experience. We started with lunch at Apple Annie’s. That day was endless fish and french-fries. I couldn’t eat the fried fish but those that did say is was so good that it melted in your mouth. I can’t drink soda and can only usually order water at restaurants, so it was nice to order some apple cider with my lunch. Lunch tasted great but it was a little on the pricy side.

After lunch we looked in a few of the shops. Then we decided to go in the animal park. It cost $3 a person to go in and look at the animals. We saw a lot of goats, and birds, and pigs. Then there was an area that we were able to go in and pet the animals. We petted goats and a lama.

Let me tell you the lama liked me a lot it ripped a chuck of my hair out and kept biting at my clothes. After we left the petting zoo area we continued down the trail and saw Johnny Apple Seed’s cabin. We saw a big barn and a lake.

 The view was gorgeous and the air was crisp and clean. We felt our three dollars was well worth it. Once the season officially starts, there is also a place to mine for gold and fish. Both of those cost an additional fee but I don’t know about the prices.

It had been a long day so we headed home after stopping at our favorite fruit store, Mom’s Country Orchard. They sell all kinds of jelly, jam, and syrup along with fruit. I love this place because they always let you taste the fruit before you purchase it. Their fruit is so fresh and juicy that even though you pay a little more than you do in a grocery store, it is well worth it. We had a fun day in the good out doors.

Science Fun

Post Contains Affiliate Links

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

 

Post Contains Affiliate Links

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?

Post Contains Affiliate Links

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.

Santa Ana Zoo

Last week the gym had summer vacation so we decided to go to the zoo. I had went to the Santa Ana zoo about 2 or 3 years ago with my little on and we had a blast. At that time there were a few areas under construction but we had a good time. We decided to go back this week and were not disappointed. The zoo is small and the hours are short but I think that was perfect for a little day trip. The zoo is open from 10am to 4pm daily. It is very reasonably priced, adults are $10 and kids are $7. We opted to become zoo members. That lets us in o the zoo for free for 12 months and gives us 10% discounts at the gift shop and the cafe. There are different levels available. We opted for the family plus, it is good for three adults and up to 4 kids. After our first trip this year we are looking forward to going back. Parking is free and there seemed to be quite a bit available.

Our first stop at the zoo was Exploration Outpost. In that area there are a few photo opportunities, along with some animals to climb on. There is also a little building with a lot of learning possibilities. There are touch tables with different animal prints, a magnifying glass to look at different types of feathers, poisonous frogs, a dress up area, and more. There was fun for all ages and although the area was a little crowded my little one was able to look at everything she wanted to.

Then we headed to the Colors of the Amazon Aviary. This area was a little on the dull side we did see a few birds but mostly we saw a lot of turtles. I was hoping to see a little more action but it was a hot day, maybe we will have better luck next time. The area was very pretty to look at though.

There was a show going on in the Conversation Education Theater, we missed the first half but the second part was nice. We learned about different feet and how they help animals. At the end of the show my little one was able to pet a rabbit, snake and chicken. She thought the show was fun.
Next we headed to the Bald Eagle and then to Primate Row. There were a lot of different monkeys. Many of them were sleeping but a few were very active. We enjoyed seeing the many different types of monkeys. After spending a while looking at the monkeys we decided to have lunch. We passed by the treetops exhibit and the Jack Lynch Aviary on our way.

I was expecting to over pay for bad food but that was not the case at all. For three adults and a child it was less than $25 that included drinks. My little one got a hot dog kids meal. It included the hot dog, fries or fruit, a cookie and a drink. My mom and best friend both got the cheeseburger and french fries, and I got the chicken sandwich and a salad. The hamburgers were very good and filling and the fries were good as well. The salad was very fresh and so was the chicken sandwich. We all enjoyed our lunch. My little one played on the playground for a few minutes. The thing I liked about this playground was that there were two areas, one for kids 2 to 5 and one for kids 5 to 12. There were slides and monkey bars and everyone seemed to be having fun.

After lunch we headed to the Crean Family Farm. There we fed goats and sheep and saw a few farm animals. I have to say I was disappointed  in the workers knowledge at the farm area. My little one asked how much food the goat ate in a day and was told “too much.” That wasn’t the type of answer she was looking for but life goes on. In the farm area there are two rides. There is a train that takes you around the farm area and lets you see some of the animals up close and a carrousel that has zoo animals on it. My little one rode in a bald eagle nest, it spun around as the carrousel went around. She thought that it was really neat. The rides cost $3 each or you can get two rides for $5. I thought the rides were worth it.

After the farm area we re visited some of the monkeys and saw the giant anteater. That was neat to see. There were two of them and after waiting a few minutes they came right up to the fence. We looked at the grassland exhibit, and saw a few monkeys and birds at the Amazon’s Edge.  It was a hot day so the animals were not as active as we had hoped but we saw the entire zoo and had a good day.

  

Overall the zoo was very nice, there was not too much walking and we were able to see a lot of different animals. We are looking forward to our next trip.