- Homeschool in the Woods Early 19th Century -- we're working our way through this as our spine for the Westward Expansion study. The boys really enjoyed learning about the Barbary Pirates too.. all their narration of it over the lunch table for Daddy was quite humorous!
- Little House On The Prairie -- we've been enjoying reading this and using the freebie lapbook from HomeSchoolShare. The lapbook is basically a way for the kids to narrate back or "report" back on various elements of each chapter.
- Native American History Pockets -- we're still working our way through this as we learn about the various tribes of Native Americans. The boys are equally intrigued by this study as well, and they've enjoyed learning that their opinions were quite off the mark when it comes to the Native Americans.
- Place Value War; Joey-Joey; Math Minute(s), Hunting For Grub (stay tuned for a post), We'll also be starting our Multiples of 2 poster as we venture off into the world of multiplication, stay tuned for more info on that..
Planning maths is a constant around here. It takes a lot to stay ahead of the game when not using a math curriculum. I have several books that are always open, and more that are always bookmarked that help me in the planning process. I also keep track of plans, ideas, and games with gobs of notes in many different places around the house. So, how do we pull it all together so we can actually enjoy a fun math lesson? It’s not all that hard, to be honest, and I like to use a three stage planning process.
1. Decide what we want to teach. Sometimes I have predecided this, or I see a weakness one of the kids has and I decide we need to focus on that area for a while. There are many great resources out there for helping decide what to teach children based on their age and grade level. One of the best free resources I’ve found comes from World Book. It breaks down what children should know from Preschool through Level/Grade 12, and it covers a lot more then maths. So, if you’re curious where your kids fall compared to what they might learn in a schooling system you can always check there. You could also invest in the “What Your Child Needs To Know...” series, but I prefer to go with free when I can.
2. After deciding what we’re going to learn I have to deicide how we’ll learn it. My favorite resource, which you probably all ready know, is A Collection Of Math Lessons. We own the Red and Blue books thus far in this series and each time I read through a section of the books I have this feeling that I’m peeking in on someone else’s math lessons. The ideas are simplistic and represented in a very gentle way, two features that truly appeal to me. They are, of course, the first resources I turn to, but not the only ones. I also like looking in Meeting Math Standards With Picture Books, which uses picture books to teach various math lessons.
3. Lastly we look for ways to tie it all together. This would include our math journals, games, hands on work, and the occasional worksheet. Our math journals are where we store our game sheets (when a game requires one), math vocabulary sheets, and other bits and pieces. Sometimes I’ll make the kids papers with 3-6 problems on it that help them use previously learned skills, they also tuck those in there.
The games we play may vary from day to day and week to week. I will often let the kids pick a game if they want. Jayden’s hand down favorite is Tens Concentration. He can’t get enough of it. Morgan loves them all. I often pick a game we’re more familiar with to start our lessons, and one that will help us work on the new skill or master a skill we need more practice with. We have a variety of resources for picking games which are not limited to, but include Family Math, A Collection Of Math Lessons, Card Game Round Up, The Kid’s Everything Math Book, & various places online that I’ve bookmarked over time (I’m actually trying to compile an organized list of these games and the topics/skills they cover. A bit nerdy I suppose but,..) I also have a new book on my wish-list called Mega Fun Math Games & Puzzles for the Elementary Grades.
I often make the kids “worksheets” which include a few problems to work on new skills and a few problems to work on skills they should know. I often include one problem on the paper that is a skill they struggle with. However, if you’re not up to making your own papers or want to do a drill paper or whatever you can make your own worksheets here or here.
We’ve also really enjoyed using the book Math Minutes put out by Creative Teaching Press. Now, I’m going to be honest here and say that I wasn’t entirely sure which level to buy and was planning on getting 2nd & 3rd grade for my boys. In the end I purchased the 3rd grade level with the idea of going back for the 2nd grade level later. Thus far, and we’re not SUPER far in yet, my boys have had no issues with the problems at hand. Yes, this includes my 1st grader. Because we learn together we learn the same stuff at the same time, sometimes pared down when the younger one needs it. Thus, my kids might know things that are above their grade level, but they might also be unaware of things that are on their grade level or below. It all evens out in the end.
Once I have all my plans made and manipulatives (if needed) gathered together I present the lesson to the boys. Often times we present the skill to them and then continue to play games and openly discuss it over the week ahead. Other times they catch on so quickly that we mention it once, play a few games scattered over several weeks and that’s that. Yet, other times we may stick with a particular skill because while they grasp it there’s still an obvious need for more work on it. I kinda of take my cue from them.
In fact, I tend to take notes on those cues too. I’ll write things down in my planner like:
“Mon: M, understands the concept of place value, but struggles with the ten’s area. J, understands concept of place value but struggles with thousands.
Tues: M, did much better today and seems to have fully grasped it. We’ll continue playing various place value games before introducing written work on this concept.
J, still needs reminder that we say thousands first, but otherwise doing quite well. Again, continue to play games before giving written work with this concept. “
I tend to keep notes on other various subjects too as it helps me plan my weeks ahead and know which areas the kids need more work in and which ones only need the occasional glance or reminder. I don’t often use anything fancier then our “What we did this week” page in the planner.
Keeping notes also makes starting conversations quite interesting. Jayden was struggling with addition when he first started. He’d see 2+2 and say 22. So, one day while cooking breakfast I made up a story about the farmer, his cows, and his sheep. The farmer couldn’t sleep because he couldn’t figure out how many ears, feet, and tails were in various word problems.
It sounds like a lot more work then it is, and generally as long as I know what I want to teach in a week then the plans come together quite quickly. It also helps having my notes to refer back to so I know which games or problems the kids need for review work.
Due to time differences we have to watch the olympics in two parts. We get a few hours coverage in the morning, and then we get recaps and highlights around 9:30 pm. This means that we find ourselves glued to the early morning sessions, which caused a bit of unrest with me.
There was this big huge inward struggle.. ‘do we watch the olympics, which are only on once ever 2 years-- 4 if you count from winter to winter or summer to summer. Or, do we do school.’
Now, I know many homeschoolers took advantage of the moment and are doing olympic studies. The thought had crossed my mind, but I wasn’t sure how much we’d get to see considering the huge time difference and the rumor that Australia isn’t too big on winter olympics. Due to those concerns we were going to stay the path with our Westward Expansion studies.
Only, it became more and more difficult to stop watching sports we rarely see. We were watching in horror when the Aussies rode down the bobsled course on their heads. We had lots of woots and screams when Tora won gold. We were elated too when Team U.S.A. won the hockey match against Team Canada; after all we had a bit of pride riding on that match! And there was many gasps of relief when Team U.S.A. advanced forward in skiing. There’s just too much excitement in watching your country(s) come to victory, cheering for the underdogs, & watching amazing stories of sheer determination unfold.
So we threw our plans out the window, grabbed the remote and settled down for a few hours of fun. Some of which was spent running up and down the stairs to give updates to Mr Scarecrow who can only join us for bits and pieces between work.
The boys took a huge interest in the country flags. This isn’t a big surprise to me. Morgan has always been intrigued by flags and he finds no greater joy then when people bring him back one from their various travels around the globe. So when I spotted him drawing flag after flag on scrap paper and then asking which country they were I was struck by a moment of ingenious planning. The idea was to keep everything laid back and simple. To, in essence, do a bit of unschooling for the duration of the games.
This is a big thing for me. I’m a planner. I like to color inside the lines. I like things to be even and square and perfectly straight. I like my sheets of notes, my file box of plans, & above all I like to be prepared. So doing something on the spur of the moment, while fun, was also slightly daunting.
We pulled out our book of Flags Of The World (our copy is truly called Flag Book, and is not the same as I’ve linked to, but we also like the one I’ve linked to and borrow it from the library quite often..) and I let the kids hunt for each flag they’d drawn from the olympics. We then proceeded to write the names of the countries on the flags. Then we checked out where each country is located.
We pulled out a world map that only showed continents, no country lines, and we hung it up. Then we printed out country/flag papers from Crayola of the flags that the kids had drawn. After the morning coverage of the Olympics was over today the boys each chose a few of the flags to color. Then, we checked witch continent each country was located in.
We colored the country (the country & the flag are on the printouts from Crayola) the same color as the continent is on our map. There is a method to that madness! Then we pulled out our big box of flags. (We use to purchase a large flag that was identical to the country flag we’d be studying about. They use to cost $5.00, but the price went up dramatically last time we went to order from the company!) The boys had a blast looking through the many flags and each selected a flag that was neither Australian or American.
Morgan chose South Korea because he loves their flag. He's fallen head over heels in love with it. Jayden had France out, which was not a surprise. He truly loves France, but he opted to put it back for the Japanese flag. I suspect he was looking for something similar to the flag Morgan had. We then hung up their flags in their room. I’m pretty sure during tomorrow’s olympic session they’ll be taken down, and that’s okay.We also made copies of 6 contintent maps that had the countries broken down on them. We made our copies from the scholastic Ready To Go Super Book Of Outline Maps. Yet another one of our many geography resources. Can you tell we like geography around here? They took turns coloring the country on the map who’s flag they’d also colored. They were permitted to color the country on the map any color they wanted so long as someone else hadn’t used that color first. The idea was to help us be able to see the country more easily once we got several colored in.
Our plans to finish off our “study” with are nothing major. We’ll continue to color the flags and locate the countries on the map. Then we’ll make a graph of how many countries came from each continent. (Do you see my method of madness now?)
We’ll also make a graph of medals won, but how we’ll do that yet is still up in the air. I’m not sure if we’ll do each country; each country we’ve colored; or the countries we are most gung-ho for. That’s to be decided. We’ll most likely also read up about each country. Nothing major, just a small bit of info in books we all ready own or what we can gleam from My Country Report.
The best part is, the kids are delighted to do "Olympic School" and couldn't wait to tackle finding the flags and countries in the various Atlases and Flag books we had on the table. They were inspired to ask lots of fun questions, and were completely amazed that my grandma use to live in Germany. Wait until they hear "the poem".. Interestingly enough while they are always cheering for the Aussies and the Americans they don't hesitate to find someone to cheer on if those aren't available. And, in true American style they were slightly put out that America got silver to Canada's Gold in ice dancing. (No offense to ANY Canadians, but you know we have to pick on you, right??) However, in true Olympic spirit they dug out their Canadian flags and waved them for the ceremony.
What's your favorite:
Drink: Grape Juice
Toy: Star Wars Lego
Tv Show: Uh, what’s a tv show..
Game: Card games
Book: Anything by Mo Willems
If you could change your name, what would you change it to?
Stripy (Thanks for that Jayden!!!)
What is your favorite thing about each person in our family?
That they are nice and kind.
If you could choose where we go on vacation, where would we go?
Africa (that’s been top on the list for a long time)
What do you hope to do now that you are nine?
Get a zoo job..
- Read Lewis And Clark And Me each day. Because we wish to wrap this up in a week we'll be reading 2 chapters a day. It's a short and simple book and it shouldn't be a difficult to read that much a day.
- Finish any outstanding bits of our Lewis & Clark lapbook, there aren't many, but we'll also look over what we have as a review. The lapbook has really beautiful artwork in it too!
- Read The Story Of Sacajawea. We didn't focus in on her much last time despite the best laid plans. So, if time permits, we'll enjoy reading the short chapter book about her this week as well.
- Read up on Thomas Jefferson, we discussed Jefferson before and marked some things about him in our notebook timeline. This time we'll read about him from our book of presidents and add him to the large wall timeline. In fact we'll be adding all key events to our large wall timeline this time too.
- Do a couple of the fun activities we didn't get to in Lewis & Clark Expedition. We'd like to try surveying land, make a balsa wood canoe (if we can find a large enough chunk of balsa), and moccasins.
- Start reading Little House On The Prairie. This book will tie in really well with our studies, and we'll do bits and pieces of the free lapbook that homeschool share is offering for it too!
- Evan Moor Native American History Pockets: We'll only be doing the introduction to Native Americans this week. We'll work our way through the book during the 5 week study.