Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I have a lot of fun organizing and setting up group field trips for homeschool families. I have a Yahoo Group for this:(http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Kellys_Homeschool_Field_Trips_of_Hampton_Roads/).

We do field trips twice a month throughout the year. It's a lot of fun. There are nearly 300 families in my group, and I've been doing this for about 3 years. It's strictly a volunteer thing. I really enjoy it.

Today, we are doing an end-of-school-year Mad Science Party. A scientist from Mad Science will come in and put on a show for about an hour with a variety of interactive science experiments. Each of the kids will get to make their own slime to take home...I'm sure they'll love that! LOL. I'll try to post a photo later today after the party is over.

Next week, we'll be going out to Cape Henry to do one of their summer adventure programs. The kids will get to try to find a lost treasure by using a compass to guide them. This will be a team activity. They'll get goodie bags to take home, too.

There is so much to do in this area that I'm never short on ideas, and I've found a lot of new things to do this year. Homeschooling is very popular here, so most of the museums and organizations offer special programs just for homeschoolers. That's really cool.

No surprise...Haylee is asking to do her schoolwork, even though they are off this week! There's never enough school for her...I sure hope that enthusiasm continues over the years. If only some of it could rub off on Hayden! lol. He used to be that way, too. Anyway, I guess I'd better take some time to fill her workboxes today so she can dabble in that some.

This morning, I had Steve take the old toy bin set down from the attic. I got it all set up in Holden's toy corner in the living room. I guess this will be our toddler version of workboxes! I figured if he could get to his toys by himself, then it would help to keep him occupied with stuff to do while the rest of us are working on school during the day. It will make cleaning up a breeze, and he can pick what he wants to play with. I can easily remove a particular bin if I want to him play with balls, or cars, or building blocks, or whatever. It's not as tidy as the chest of clear drawers that I had there before, but it's definitely more functional and user-friendly for a busy toddler.

The other two kids are working on a big jigsaw puzzle today. They finished it this morning (they started it yesterday), but they've already disassembled it and decided to do it again! They must have enjoyed it. It's one that glows in the dark if you turn the lights off. Kinda neat. I bought it at Ollie's Bargain Warehouse last fall to take on vacation with us.

I'm in the middle of a big mess in our schoolroom. My original intention for that room was that everything for school would be stored in there, and we'd actually sit at the table in there to DO school. But with time, I came to realize that there was better natural lighting at our dinner table, and the dinner table also is at least twice the size of the school table, so we've migrated to the dinner area! Everything for school is still stored in the schoolroom (our old formal dining room), but the workboxes are now set up in the corner of the dinner area, and that's where we actually do school. Crazy, I know. But what are you gonna do?!? lol. Anyway, it's a mess in the actual schoolroom because we just finished up the school year and got everything ready for the new school year. I still have bins everywhere from packing up the old books. I need to pull together the odds and ends to put in each bin before I take them out to the shed. I try to make sure I keep everything for each grade level together so that when it gets pulled out for the next kid in 5 years, it's all in one place. That's the curse of having kids so far apart in age. My shed is definitely filling up! But at least I'm at a point now where I'm starting to use a Core from the shed at the same time.

Somebody asked me to post what kinds of curricula we use. We mainly use Sonlight for the Core (history, bible, readers, and read-alouds) and also for Science. We love all the Usborne books. But I've found that Sonlight covers topics for Social Studies and Science in a different order than public schools. It seems we always have to cram for the CAT test at the end of the school year in those two subjects. So this year, I'm hoping to take some of the last-minute pressure off Hayden by supplementing all year with public school textbooks for those two subjects. No heavy work involved...just a little extra light reading each day throughout the year to keep those topics fresh in his mind for test time. It doesn't really add that much "extra" to our day. We get sort of stressed out with test prep before the CAT, so I'm hoping this will alleviate that. I don't know why I worry about it, though...the lowest overall score Hayden has ever had is 98th percentile, and that was only once...all the other years, it was 99th percentile!

We LOVE Saxon Math. We've always used it. Both of the kids enjoy it. Hayden is doing 7/6 this year, and Haylee is doing 1. I really like the layout of the middle grades math. It's basically self-teaching. Hayden likes it that way. I know a lot of people skip questions on the Mixed Practice, but Hayden does them all. Math is his favorite subject, and it only takes him about 30 minutes to do all 30 questions in the mixed practice, so I don't feel like it's too much. Hayden is also very motivated by the daily drills. He loves to beat his time over previous drills.

I used to use Sonlight Language Arts the first few years, but it just wasn't working for Hayden, and I didn't feel like it was very thorough. It sort of jumped around and never really spent any time on any one concept. He just wasn't retaining anything, 'cause it seemed like nothing was actually taught, if you know what I mean. It's considered a natural language approach. Whatever! It was his weakest area on testing. I switched about halfway through our second grade year to Silver Burdett English (an old PS textbook from the mid-80's). I had gotten one from a retiring teacher on Freecycle, and I really liked the look of it. He did SO well with it. He had been a year ahead in English up to that point, but we backtracked and did that whole book by the end of the year because I just didn't feel like he had mastered the concepts. His test scores went way up after that! So I went online and ordered textbook and workbook sets from 1st through 8th grades to keep for all the kids to use from the start. I spent maybe $80 on all of it, including shipping. Quite a bargain! Each unit covers both grammar and composition, with the composition using the elements of grammar covered in the unit. It actually teaches the writing process using graphic organizers, which were a huge help to Hayden to figure out how to get the ideas from his head to the paper in an organized way. I just can't say enough good things about it. Many of our friends have since switched to it, as well, and they all feel the same way about it.

The subjects Hayden is studying this year are history (countries of the Eastern Hemisphere, plus review of American History as a supplement), math, grammar & composition, science (anatomy mainly, plus some review), art, music (we're in our second year of playing the recorder using Beyond the Nine-Note Recorder Method...awesome!), vocabulary (using Wordly Wise), spelling (using HF Spelling & Vocabulary), handwriting, and bible (daily readings and a devotions book).

Haylee is studying math, world cultures, spelling/vocabulary, health, science, art, music, English (using World of Language), handwriting, and phonics.

Well, that's enough for now.