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!

Life Lessons

Tuesday’s and Thursday’s are very busy days for us. On those days my mom, my little one and I take care of my grandma. We do all of her shopping and running around, go through her mail, and basically take care of anything that is needed. My little one also has gymnastics for two hours each of those days. On those days we don’t get a lot of book work done, but learn a lot about life.
My grandma has the onset of alzheimers and is very forgetful. Being exposed to that I feel is a learning experience in its self. Learning to answer the same questions over and over, to help her find things that we found just a few minutes a go, and learning how to be helpful but not too helpful. That is one are we are working on. She likes to be too helpful and sometimes grandma gets upset with that. I feel she is also learning that family should take care of each other and that you can’t always put yourself first.
On another level she is learning a lot of school type things in our weekly adventures. When we go shopping she helps to compare prices between name brand and generic items. She helps to see if it is a better deal to buy the bigger or smaller quantities of merchandise. We work on rounding skills, and estimating. With the produce she has learned all about how to read the scales and how to pick good fruit. One day the manager of the produce department saw her weighing the apples and she read the scale wrong, so the lady helped her read it and explained what everything meant. Ever since that day she loves to weigh the produce.
As far as socialization, she talks to everyone. She has conversations at the store with the cashier and other employees. She talks to the waitresses at the restaurant we go to for lunch with my grandma. She talks to people so much that when we walk into the restaurant they all tell her hi. It kind of reminds me of Norm from Cheers. She pays the bill at lunch and figures out how much change we should get and has learned how to figure out what we should leave for a tip.

After we take care of grandma we head to gymnastics. On top of the physical benefits she learns many things here as well. She learns team work, respect, and dedication. She has learned to take turns, and how to get along with kids that are not exactly the friendliest. She has learned to get up when she falls and to cheer for her teammates even when they fail. There are countless lessons that she has learned at the gym.

We are in the car a lot going from place to place and when we are, my little one loves to play her Leapster. She has logic, math, and science games and loves them all. We also practice spelling words or multiplication facts as well. We have to do extra lessons throughout the week to ensure we stay on task, but I feel she learns a ton on our busy, on the go days.

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.

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

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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…..