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.

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.

Ruby’s Diner

 

Lunch at Ruby’s Diner was amazing. There were four of us, three adults and one child and we all enjoyed our meal. I ordered the Super Ruby. It was a hamburger with cheese, tomato, avocado and Ruby Sauce (I got it without the sauce). It came on a cheese dusted sour dough bread with endless fries. I can’t have the fries so I was able to substitute for fresh fruit. The hamburger was juicy and melted in my mouth.

 

Other people in the group ordered fried fish or shrimp. They said it was delicious and a perfect match for a day at the beach.  Both came with endless fries and coleslaw. The coleslaw was a bit dry for my taste but other than that the meal was great. The meal was so filling that no one ordered the extra frys and we all left feeling satisfied. The portion sizes were very quite large. My little one is boring and got the macaroni and cheese with grapes, she liked it. There were a lot of different options and we enjoyed our meal. The price was reasonable, it was about $15 each for the adults, and we felt we got our moneys worth.  The downside of the restaurant would have to be the fact that there is no restroom, so if you have to take your child in the middle of eating you have to walk all the way back to the park area at the beginning of the pier. It is a long walk! The inside seating was limited and quite cramped, but that turned out to be a good thing. We ate outside and enjoyed it.  The best part was the view we saw while we ate. It was breathtaking!

Balboa Island

 

We finally went on our first outing of the summer to Balboa Island. It is located in Newport beach and is a nice area to walk around.

Balboa is a wonderful area in New Port Beach CA. There is so much to do and explore.
When we got to Balboa we parked in the parking lot. It is a metered lot that charges $1.50 an hour for parking. We didn’t have to pay though because we have a handicap placard. Then we stopped off at the restroom before starting our day. I have to say that the restrooms were among the cleanest public restrooms that I have ever seen. We went to the fun zone and our first stop was the nautical museum. It has three buildings, two of which are free to look at, the other one costs a small fee. I don’t remember the exact price but four of us got in for less than $20.

 

The two free buildings had a lot of neat boats to look at and were very interesting. We have come a long way in boat making over the years. There were paintings and models to look at as well as a few videos to watch.



There was an area devoted to a resident from Balboa who had competed in the paralimpics in sailing. It was inspirational. There was a sail with all kinds of signatures, and a sign was posted for people to sign the sail and put their dreams. My little one liked that idea and added her dream to the sail.

 
The building that cost to get in had an area that showed how beach music has changed over the years, a replica of the largest fish ever caught, a submarine you could pretend to drive,a touch tank and more. I think my little one learned a lot and had fun. She loved the touch tank and the gentleman working at the museum was talking to her about the different animals in the tank. She asked a lot of questions and then talked about the animals the rest of the day.

After the museum we looked in a few of the shops. My little one got some ice cream and my mom got a chocolate dipped frozen banana, they both said that they were very good. Then we went window shopping.  The shops had a lot of beach themed items but I felt they were a bit over priced. It was fun to look at the different shops and see the different things that could be made out of sea shells. Then we went on the Ferris wheel. The cost was $3 each, which I thought was a little high, but after the ride I think it was worth it. This feriswheel doesn’t just go around once or twice it goes around 25 times. It was a nice long ride and the scenery was beautiful. The seats were a little on the small side but I was able to fit.

After our ride we decided to get some lunch. We took the long walk to the end of the Balboa pier and ate at Ruby’s Diner. I will go into more detail about lunch in another post. Lunch was good. After lunch we continued to look through the shops and then decided to rest while my little one played on the playground. It was a nice area with slides, swings, monkey bars and an awesome jungle gym. My little one loved talking with other kids and playing. She climbed to the top of the jungle gym a few times and overall, she had a blast. 











After the playground it was time for our sunset cruise. The night before our trip I found a deal online that would let us take the 90 minute cruise for only $10 per adult and $6 per child. This cruise was well worth the price. It started at 7pm. It was a little breezy but the weather was still nice.
The views were amazing. We were able to see some sea lions, and beautiful views of the homes around Balboa. The water was a little rough so the ride was fun, I even got splashed a little. The waves were choppy which made the experience even more memorable. I was able to get a few nice pictures.
 
The day at Balboa was a lot of fun. It was not too hot and we were able to take time and explore. I would recommend taking a trip down there if you are able. There is of course the option to swim as well, but my foot problem doesn’t allow me to walk on sand, so I can’t swim as of now.

Summer = More time in the Gym

Now that it is summer my little one will be spending more time in the gym. She has been doing gymnastics since she was two and loves it. She has been on the competition team for a year now and enjoys competing. Competitions are over until September and now they get to learn new skills and perfect some ones they have been working on. She will be at the gym 4 to 5 days a week for about 3 hours a day. Hopefully her arm strength will improve and she will have a lot of fun. With the extra classes she gets to be with more girls her age and I think she really enjoys that. Right now her goal is to move up to the next level before September, I don’t think that will happen but if she works extremely hard it could.


This is my little one in the blue. It was at the gym’s summer show.



The only downside to more practices is that I am away from home longer and have not been able to do all of the things around the house that I would like to. With my foot being hurt it makes it hard to do a lot at a time. Sitting in the gym can get boring day after day as well, but she likes us to watch. I couldn’t come home anyways being as the gym is about 40 mins from our house it would take way too much gas. Overall it is worth it, she gets some exercise and gets to do something she loves.

Ice Cream

 

 

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This ice cream maker has made summer a lot easier!

One of the many foods that usually contains some sort of corn is ice cream. It usually has corn syrup, so I just didn’t eat any. But….. my wonderful friend bought me the Hamilton Beach 1.5 Quart Ice Cream Maker for my birthday. I used it for the first time yesterday and was amazed.

It is very simple to use and works very quickly. The box says it makes ice cream in 25 to 40 minutes. I did feel that this statement was a little misleading. You have to put one part of the ice cream maker in the freezer for 24 hours before use and all of the recipes they provide require you to chill the mixture in the refrigerator for 24 hours before you can make it. However once everything is frozen and chilled I had ice cream in less than 20 minutes. You just pour the mix in, and turn the machine on. It doesn’t need any rock salt or special ingredients. The ice cream had a good flavor, held its’ shape, and tasted far better than any ice cream I have ever bought at a store. It only makes a quart of ice cream, and the ice cream maker needs to be frozen each time it is used, but it is a perfect fit in my opinion. It cleaned up nicely, and I can’t wait to experiment and try new flavors. If you are looking for a simple to use ice cream maker, check this one out!

Pirate’s Dinner Adventure

My little one will be turning 9 in just a few days. This year we decided to take her to the Pirates Dinner Adventure, in Buena Park CA. We have been there two times before and they still did not disappoint. A group of six of us attended the 7:30 show on Friday 4-27. The show is a dinner show, but the experience actually starts about two hours before the real show. We got to the theatre at about 5:15 because the traffic was unusually light. We were the second group in line and waited for the box office to open at 5:30. When it did we gave our name and were assigned to the purple group. (we have now been red, yellow, and purple and purple is the best.) We were given purple flags, bandannas, and assorted colored beads. Then we entered the building. When we first got there we were given pirate hats and took a group picture in front of the captain’s wheel of the ship.

My little one with her flag and bandanna.

After the picture we went into another room where there was a bar, and waiters handing out appetizers. The prices at the bar were a little steep but not too far off from any other tourist type attraction. Sodas were $5 they came in a small 3d cup and refills were $1. Beer was $8 in the same cup with refills for $7. They had other options like margaritas and other mixed drinks but we didn’t order those. There was a lot of appetizers, unfortunately with my corn allergy I could not eat many. The others in the group said they were great. There was; chicken strips, tacos, meatballs, ham and cheese, turkey and cheese, fried corn, shrimp, and a lot more. There is not a lot of seating in this area, and the closer it gets to the show time the less appetizers you will get. However if you arrive early like they say, you will have ample opportunity to sample as many as you like. At about 7pm the preshow started and without giving too much of the story away we are captured and taken aboard a ship. At that point you are lead by your waiter/ waitress to your table. I am unable to walk at the moment so I had to go in a wheelchair. I don’t know how much handicap seating is available but we have never had a problem. We were seated in the second row and all six of us sat in the same row.
The waitress introduced herself and gave us pitchers of soda. (From this point on the soda is free.) We were given a choice of vegetable soup or a salad with ranch dressing. We all chose the salad and it was crisp, fresh and really good. The rest of the course is served through out the show. The next choice was either chicken, Spanish rice and broccoli or pork lion with BBQ sauce, mashed potatoes, and broccoli. I had the chicken, it was amazing. We were served a half chicken which was so tender it was falling off the bone and the rice was good too. The broccoli was a little undercooked to my tastes but still edible. The two that had the pork loin said it was ok. The potatoes and broccoli were good but that the pork was a little dry. We were served apple cobbler at the end and cake. (an extra charge we added because of the birthday)  None of our group cared for the apple desert but the cake was moist and fresh.

This is inside the theater, flash is not aloud but this was the best I had.

The show is neat. Once you are in the theater you are told to cheer for your pirate and boo for the other pirates. In order to enjoy the show you have to let your hair down and have fun with it. The pirates take part in contests and audience members help. At one point anyone who paid for a birthday announcement is called on stage and given a small gift. The package we bought was $20 for the birthday girl and she got the bandanna, flag, beads, and cake along with the chance to go onstage and take a picture. The show has comedy, love, trampoline stunts,  a ribbon acrobat, and a lot of fun with pirates. There is a lot of audience participation, but it was not at all forced. Don’t go planning on just watching a show though, you have to cheer and scream and find your inner pirate.

After the show we went back into the main room for a buccaneer’s bash. No one was dancing but the bar and gift shop was open. This was also a good time to take pictures with the pirates.We had a great time and will surly go again.

Dinner

I have a theory that the reason America is fat is due to convenience. Think about it, we have drive throughs, premade food, boxed and canned food available to us at cheep prices. You can get a pizza for $5 or a taco for $.49. Not being able to grab these convenience foods has put me in the kitchen a lot longer and cost a bit more money, but I think with time and planning better it will get easier. Today I made scalloped potatoes, broccoli, and London broil. The scalloped potatoes came from the Betty Crocker cookbook and everyone loved them. I had planned on having some left over for tomorrow, but I will have to make something else. It took me about an hour to wash, peal, and slice the potatoes, about twenty min to make the sauce and then about two hours o cook. The London broil was quick. I put it on a cookie sheet, poked it with a fork, salted it and then put it under the broiler for 5 min on each side. I steamed the broccoli in about ten min, and called it dinner. The potatoes tasted better than any boxed potato I have ever had and I know they had NO corn which was the best part.

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.