In 1942…

Today we learned about Columbus.
This required aluminum foil boats and the bathtub Atlantic Ocean.

We tried explaining to Lil Man that he could NOT be a hurricane, or tsunami, or whirlpool.
Alas, we still had issues…
So I made all the good sailors take a nap….or sit quiet… or rest…. or
just sit on your napmat, have a snack, listen to your classical music and DON’T LEAVE THIS ROOM!
 
Man, what’s a mom gotta do to get some quiet time around here?

Day one… How do you do this with little ones again?

First I’ll apologize for the bad photos…. apparently little fingers smudged up my camera on my phone.
Monday was our first day of school. Since I’m not the “take them out everyday” kind of homeschooler (I’m more of the “yes you can study in your pj’s” type) I decided to buy everyone new pajamas for bedtime Sunday night! Nothing says ‘7:30 am comes hard and fast, you better go to sleep NOW’ like new pajamas and forced family photo sessions.

 
Why yes, Doodlebug is holding Lil Man by his ears. She’s keeping his head on straight. Or something like that.
 
God made sure I was up by 6:30, so I made sure to read my #b90days selection while having coffee.  They didn’t fight over breakfast. They didn’t argue about getting dressed, brushing their teeth or brushing their hair. Maybe because Daddy was upstairs in bed (sick) and they knew he was listening.
I gently requested that he refrain from watching tv until we were done, and he gently requested his PSP so he would watch videos under the covers.
We survived. That’s about all I can say about that. Trying to read a story about Leif Ericson while Lil Man flings markers and Bubbagirl begs for cartoons or screams because Lil Man is on her napmat was challenging.
The biggest thrill was finally getting to lay down on the nap mats I made them. Not that anyone actually napped.


 
Tomorrow’s another day right?
P.S. aside from putting the little ones in the closet for a couple hours, anyone have any tips on keeping them busy?

I can almost hear the school bell

Next Monday we begin our new school year here at the Crazy House Baldwin Academy Baldwin School of Misfits… um home. This summer, Mr. Daddy Principal Man helped me squooosh all four kids into one room, move all my sewing stuff downstairs and turn our third bedroom into an official school room!

The kids are so very excited! I’m almost done getting everything ready for Monday, just a few more things to print out and get in their folders!
Next, I’ll write up what our curriculum is going to be this year….other than fun, fun and fun!
Where do you school?
and…uh.. does your school have a name?
 

Maybe it's not all me

Yesterday I took Doodlebug in to see her doctor. He is sending us to JMU (the university) for a full evaluation. I am scared. I am relieved. I am blessed that one of my online friends noticed my concern and frustration. She shared her story and inspired me to just go ask.
Doodlebug is an amazing and wonderful girl. Her little quirks made us laugh. Her clumsiness. Her adorable inability to look you in the eye when she was talking. The cute way she would cry out “but that’s JUST NOT FAIR” over everything.
Somewhere I was failing her. She seemed unaware that she interrupted I constantly. She could generate a bad attitude in a heartbeat. She has an amazing desire to help (even wants to be a doctor when she grows up) but at the same time she totally ignores you when you say “Hey, that is hurting me” if not hurting you would mean she had to stop what she was doing. We can’t get past the basics of math. Her handwriting is… terrible. Even eating at the table is a mess with her.
The thought had crossed my mind before. The “what if it’s not all me” thought. The “hmmm, I wonder if there might be some reason, other than crappy parenting, that would explain some of her general difficulty with life”.
She didn’t fit any of the profiles for anything I had ever heard of before. Every checklist I was ever asked to fill out at the pediatrician’s office showed a perfectly perfect kid. Everyone saw her quirks. No one questioned them. Some family even said they didn’t see them – ever.
I am not a perfect mom. I AM a good mom. Even though we’ve had a couple of easy “baby years” in our home school I AM a good teacher. I have lots of room to grow and things to learn and places to improve. I’m a good mom because I realize all these things and I keep searching and praying and reading and changing to try and be better. Despite all of this effort, my oldest daughter still seems frustrated and lost most of the time.
Yesterday the doctor said words that elated me and saddened me. He said that I might be on to something. He agreed that the situation warranted evaluation. He said that I might be right.
As we carefully discussed it all, speaking in code for the benefit of the very aware nine year old in the room, we explained to Doodlebug that we were going to take her to talk to some other people. How we were going to take her to chat, play, and take a few tests to see if maybe they could tell mommy a better way to teach her in school.  It could take months to get the evaluation completed. In the meantime, I’m reading and googling and seeking advice from other moms to see what I can change in our day to day family routine that might help Doodlebug. Even if her evaluation shows to issues there is still something in her life that is making things difficult and I need to fix that.
At least now I know there is a chance it’s not just me.
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I am keeping an open mind regarding a diagnosis. I am not seeking a “disorder specific” doctor as I want someone to evaluate her overall and come to their own conclusions. I do have an idea on what might be the problem. It’s called a Non-Verbal Learning Disability.
Here are a few links that explain:
http://www.learningdisabilitiesinfo.com/nonverbal.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonverbal_learning_disorder
http://www.ldonline.org/article/6114

Math, engineering, home ec and Motrin.

And coffee. Lots of coffee.
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Today I thought I’d be a “cool mom” and turn this toddler tent craft into our schoolwork for the day.
It seemed simple enough. Take a set of old sheets, make some rectangles, sew them together, and drape over a card table.
There would be measuring, math, home economics, engineering, design, graphic, learning to scale, and…
Motrin. Lots and lots of Motrin. And Coffee. Let us NOT forget the coffee.
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Taderbug got to use my new machine since it has the ability to step along really really slowly.
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Doodlebug was all work on my old machine. She impressed me today! She paid attention to measurements, did the math, and spent 20 minutes rethreading the machine when it jammed.
We also learned that hand me down measuring tapes that are SO old that they aren’t even plastic tend to shrink over time and will ruin your measurements by a lot. We’re talking 1/2 ” here! I hated to toss it but I didn’t want to accidently use it.
 
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Even Lil Man got in on the action! It’s not child labor if it’s educational right?
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Well, here’s our tent. Two doors, two windows and tons of fun. The girls put a couple books on the table to the top would stick up like a princess castle. I’m pretty sure there is a camp out planned for tonight.
Hubby thinks I should make them (without the child labor) and sell them. I think that means he likes it. I like it when he likes my stuff.
 
 
Blogging from my Android….probably from the bathroom.

A Curriculum Review: Time4Learning

We have been homeschooling for four years. I have been pregnant for two of them. The other two were “new baby” years. As a first time homeschooler we tested out a variety of curriculums, mostly handed down pieces and free online resources.
We bought an all inclusive one for our daughters first grade year and it bored her. It bored me too.
Last spring, we purchased another curriculum, gently used, thinking it would be easier for mom during our “baby” year. We scrapped it in a couple months.
I wanted so badly to be the cool mom with crafty lessons and lapbooks and unit studies and experiments and stuff. I just couldn’t do it. I had one daughter that was desperately trying to tell me she liked the more textbook-y stuff and one daughter that only liked it if it didn’t exercise her brain – at all.
I had a toddler and now a baby and started looking back at all the ideas I had turned down before.
One of them was the online curriculum Time 4 Learning. I had been to the site several times and kept turning away from it because of the cost. At the time I was finding material for free, justifying the monthly fee to our Mr. Daddy Principal Man was hard.
A month ago I found myself at their site again. Now we would have two kids signed up. Now I have a better idea of what motivates my girls. When I did the math I realized that EVEN IF we did school 12 months the total sum of the monthly fees was less than the cost of the last curriculum we purchased! (They do have an option to put your account on hold over the summer!)
I needed to convince Mr. Daddy Principal Man to give it a chance. God provided me an opportunity to show him how great the site was when I received an email invitation to review the site for one month FREE! I posted the disclaimer on my blog (it’s been on my sidebar all month, recently moved to this post), and signed my girls up!
My time is up, we’ve renewed the membership, and now for my official review. Thanks Time 4 Learning for giving us this opportunity!
****************This review is 100% my own opinion. At the time of this posting I am under a PAID membership status with them.

It’s pretty obvious at this point that my review is overall positive, after all I DID pay for another month. There are some highlighted points I do want to make about their program. We are currently working on the first and third grades.
Pros:

  • No commitment. Charges are monthly, cancel anytime.
  • The Backpack and The Parent Login! : The Backpack is a place where my daughter can go to see her work for the day/week/month and the icons let her know what she finished and what her grades were. The Parent Login now allows me to do the same thing from my laptop while they are still logged in and working. Imagine my 9 year old’s surprise when I tell her to go back and finish an activity! “Moooom, how did you know?”
  • When you choose your child’s grade level, you are given access to the activities for the grade level below and above them.
  • The activities are short for those ever elusive attention spans!
  • Many of the first grade activities READ to my child.
  • The child can click the “Resource”link under their activity and print their worksheet.
  • Quizzes immediately show the child their score and what questions they missed.
  • I can use it anytime, anywhere I have an internet connection and a computer and at our own pace.
  • Reasonably priced.
  • Blocked “Playground” area, full of educational games, that only unlocks once the student had worked for a PARENT specified amount of time. I can, at any moment, override this for special days or as a special reward.

Cons:

  • The software, at this time, does not have the ability to “assign” students certain tasks on certain days from within the program. I do that on daily lesson pages that I made up. Not a deal breaker, just adds a manual step in my planning. (This functionality is available to classroom teachers only at this time)
  • The added on subjects, like social studies and science, do not read the questions to my non reader for the first grade. They do have information in their forum on a free program that will read to your child but I have not tested it yet.
  • There is only one worksheet per activity. Again, not a deal breaker for me because I know of a dozen great places online for additional FREE worksheets.

My biggest issue is with planning lessons and assigning them. This has been an issue with other curriculums so I have difficulty really blaming it on Time4Learning. I have enjoyed our free month and look forward to using it the rest of this school year and the next!
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I’ve been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. Time4Learning is an online educational program that can be used in many ways including as a homeschooling curriculum or afterschool tutorial. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning

Game Day at the Schoolhouse


This year I’ve done a few things different.  Planning different. Teaching different. Stressing out differently.
I also scheduled our Christmas break. A LONG one. It will feel great waking up next Monday morning knowing that we are not doing school and it is OKAY.
That makes today our last day of school for 2010.  The girls are excited.  This mom is excited.  I can’t imagine what they are going to do when they find out our last day is going to be “Game Day”.
Last Tuesday, The Homeschool Village held a twitter Christmas party and one of the questions asked was “Do you use games in school?” (or something like that, it’s hard to keep up with parties that rockin’!)  I use fun and games to teach all the time but must admit I have never sat down with my kids and a board game and played with them as a planned part of our schoolwork.  The list of games came pouring in over tweetchat and made a point to pull up the party on Wednesday and start making a list.
Today, Daddy is home from work.  Today, our last day of the school for the year, we are going to play games.  No Wii games (great idea, we just don’t have a game that everyone can play yet).  No computer games.
I think we’ll start with Skip Bo, then UNO, and see if I have any hair left before moving on.
They will be excited.  Once I get the game going, Daddy will be excited. I am the one that struggles with this.  I love games, and I love my kids.  I simply have a hard time enjoying it while bouncing a 20 pounder on one knee and distracting the 2 year old so she won’t move around all the pieces.
Here are a list of games they mentioned at the party:

Non “Board Game” Ideas that were shared:

  • Cooking
  • Counting down until…bedtime, dinnertime, etc.
  • Playing store with coupons, boxes from kitchen, empty containers
  • Dress up, act out stories you have read
  • Minute to Win It! Practice some of the games from the game show!

What games do you play with your kids?  Do you ever do it as part of your planned schoolwork?

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Some of the links here are Amazon affiliate links.  If you were to purchase it, yes, I would get a few cents to go towards our school fund.  This link offered a great description of the product and reviews and I only included them on games I had never heard of before.

Stolen from Public School…. it’s Math Blitz Week!

Salt Tray Math

My friend Laurie tweeted this morning about her local school system having a Math Blitz Week and how she was going to do the same thing with her kids this week.  Being the total copycat mom that I am I have stolen her idea and the school’s idea and am having a math blitz week of our own!

Today, made up some basic addition facts flash cards and practiced them, both grades (3rd and 1st) together.  Then we drew a giant number 10 on a piece of art paper and decorated all around it with the many facts that equal ten.  The girls earned a tootsie roll for remembering all of them without my help.  I pulled out some old workbooks and set Tader up at the kitchen table to work through the fun pages while Doodlebug and I sat on the floor to formally introduce her to multiplication.

My NON math child now knows how to multiply and filled in a multiplication table up to the nines!!  I couldn’t be more excited!

Here are some links to the resources we’ll be using this week!

Won’t you join us!?

Salt tray "chalk boards"

Today school was tough. There was whining and fussing about rounding numbers to the nearest 100.  There was laying on the floor in near tears over not remembering our basic math facts.  I knew for sure there would be crying over doing cursive practice.
Then I remembered something a friend of mine mentioned to me.  She had suggested I pour salt on a cookie sheet and let my daughters write in the salt.  (It was during a conversation about teaching phonics)
I wondered if the change up, the idea of playing with food, the texture and the ability to easily “shake” away your mistakes would put my Doodlebug at ease with working on her math.
So I pulled out a craft tray and covered the bottom with salt.




I think it was successful 🙂 Don’t you?