Reading Corner

Like most people, okay, well like most homeschoolers, we have books in every room of the house. From the cookbooks in the kitchen to the curriculum/school resource books in my room to the kids books....everywhere. We have one very large shelf that sits in the playroom- it's been in my home as long as I can remember and my dad gave it to me when he downsized a couple years ago. It's got our books, kids books, college text books and it is stuffed full. Since it arrived it has been along one wall, covering up our poster of George Washington. Last week the boys and I took off all the books and moved it so it is jutting out into the middle of the room...

Added a couple comfy places to sit and a lamp...

And now they have a quiet, comfortable place to read...

And the back of the shelf is proving useful too.


One Week

One week of summer vacation left. I am mostly ready- still finishing up our first science unit. We are doing Earth science this year, starting with astronomy. I am having fun requesting books from the University of Tennessee library- which has a pretty good juvenile books section. I am breaking Paul's back everyday this week with books to pick up- at least he doesn't have to go find them too. UT has this nifty service where you just request the book and they pull it off the shelf and you just pick it up at circulation.

But until next Monday, it is summer.


The Preschool Shelf

I've been rearranging our playroom/schoolroom lately. Like I always do before we start a new school year. Cohen will be a little more occupied this year since, which means Lakin is losing his partner in crime during school time. Last year, they ran amok. I when Cohen was in preschool I did very well giving him activities to do while I was working with the older two. Last year, not so much. So....this year I cleared off one entire shelf to dedicate to Lakin-aged activities. Everyone can use them, but the activities I choose have him in mind.

Here is our 9-cube, preschool shelf:

I've been putting them out slowly, taking off old ones and replacing them with new. I put this one out tonight and he loved it. 2 bowls, rocks and tongs.

I ordered a couple things from Montessori Services, one of which was this creamer set. They are tiny and cute and great for pouring.

And this I put out tonight, after the boys were in bed. This is Lakin's mini sandbox. I took out the sand and replaced it with birdseed, some spoons and scoops. I am sure the dump trucks will go back in tomorrow too.

This little pouring set has been out for over a year now, but they all use it. I did finally replace the old beans with chickpeas for something new though.

Counting bears and cards, up to 8

This is what I did with the sand from the mini-sandbox. Along with some shells and a straining spoon...

And finally the dropper jars. We have a set for color mixing, which they all use weekly it seems. So I got a couple more bottles and droppers to use for other things. This one is for filling up these mini-cups. Cohen worked on it for awhile tonight when I put it out...making his blue and red pattern.

My plan is to switch these out every week or so. Keeping with the basic themes of these. Pouring, transferring, math, language, sensory, small motor, etc...

Next up on my rearranging list: The "Library"
I have an idea on what I want to do, I just have to convince Paul to help me take all the books off and move the massive 6 ft long, 4 ft high book shelf to a new location. (And back if it doesn't look like I want it to....)


Keeping Cool: Part 2

Today Paul had class until noon, but didn't have to be at work until 4. So instead of him driving all the way home or hanging around the UT library for hours like he's been doing this week, we decided to meet him on campus after class. After lunch at the UT Gardens and getting ice cream (the reward for Cale learning to "swim"- he traveled about 2 ft under water, but a it's a start) we headed down to Knoxville's Volunteer Landing- or the river front.

They've done a lot of work up there in the past few years, and it's a nice place to walk around....if it weren't 95+ degrees outside. But they've also got these fountains. And that's a good thing when it's 95 degrees outside.

They thoroughly enjoyed their first trip to this area

Running through the water spouts,

And through the waterfall,

And letting the waterfall pull their swimsuits half off- they are boys you know....

And for someone who was pretty scared to go underwater at the pool, I am not quite sure how this isn't scary too...

And I got to do one of my favorite things too...

Taking their picture...water always makes a nice backdrop.


Keeping Cool

It's been hot here. Hotter than it's been in a couple summers I think. Which makes for a miserable time outside or a long day indoors. We try to get out to the pool at least once a week, but we did get a slip n' slide this week at the store. We had to set it up the second we got home...

I had a slip n' slide when I was younger. But we also had a hill. We don't have a hill here, but they made do...

Cohen and Lakin by crawling down it

And Rylan and Cale by getting a good running start and projecting themselves as hard as possible.

There was only one problem...

They were a little over zealous in their jumping and had poor form.

Both of Cale's hips looked like this. One of Rylan's. It probably doesn't help that there is absolutely no padding on them. 2 days later they tried again and they must have perfected their form....no bruising that day.


On Math.....

I had a have a hard time picking out math curriculum/workbooks in general and even more so for Kindergarten. I don't necessarily believe that a 5 year old needs a math book. But I have gotten them for all my boys so far.

This time I had a harder time choosing. To feel a part of school last year Cohen would grab some of our old books off the shelf- ones Rylan and Cale had gone through but not done every page- and he would ask to do them. So he'd done a lot of K work already. But he's been begging for a math book. Cale is currently using MUS and I like it, but Cohen was too advanced for the Primer, yet not quite ready for Alpha. Rylan is using Mastering Mathematics, and Cohen's not at that level yet either.

At the beginning of Rylan's Kindergarten year I used Modern Curriculum Press K Math book. It was okay. The way they taught writing numbers annoyed me, but we just skipped those pages. He loved the money pages and did like much more than I asked of him. We did do most of the book- which took less than 3 months, then he got to addition and I went ahead and picked up Mastering Matematics- which he was young for, but more than ready.

With Cale, I used Singapore's Earlybird Math books. And I didn't like them. At all. We skipped around a lot and didn't nearly finish the book. We did a lot of hands on and manipulative work. Which was fine, and with Cale's personality and learning style it all worked out for the best.

So....Cohen's math. Obviously we haven't started yet- other than a couple pages- but I've looked it over and so far I like it.

I got McRuffy Math- both K and First Grade since he is somewhere in between levels. I like plain- and it is. I do not like zillions and zillions of pages on counting to 10 or adding with pictures- and this doesn't have it. I want it to progress past where he is when he started- and I think he will with this. And finally, it needed to not be expensive, it is only Kindergarten afterall- and this wasn't expensive.

The K book starts with some counting and moves pretty quick to picture addition. It's got the cut and paste aspect which my kids like, and doesn't require writing.

There are a couple different versions but the numbers are added to the problems and it flips back and forth using gluing or drawing your own pictures.

And by about page 25 they introduce standard facts- using a number line or other manipulatives if needed. I like how it starts small- the first page has 3 problems- written in a very large font. Then they go up to 6 and increase to 9 at the most.

Every few pages they work on other skills like skip counting by 10s or 5s, simple graphs, ordinals, time, number words, etc... And in the end of the book is subtraction.

The K book is short- only about 70 pgs.

I've flipped through the 1st grade book and it covers- multidigit addition and subtraction with no carrying or borrowing. More time, money, patterns and graphing. It ends with very simple multiplication (x2). It is a bit longer at 100 pgs.

Between the 2 I think it'll make up his whole year, especially since he's been a workbook kid for awhile and does multiple pages at once.

A couple things to note:
I purchase the older version- available under the name K Basic Math. They do have a newer, color version. Which is more indepth and more expensive. Math is only available through 3rd grade, and I fully intend to switch, probably after this year, to something new. But this was perfect for what I needed this year.

Also I didn't not purchase a teachers guide. I don't see the point for this level. So the workbook is just another tool to go along with our own manipulatives and activities.

We also own the McRuffy Pond Pals beginning readers (Vol 1 and 2) And they are about the only early readers that my boys- and I can stand. They have controlled vocabulary like all other readers but somehow doesn't sound as corny. And they are funny too.


The Day the UPS Man Came

I ordered a bunch of things for next year and it came today. I love getting new stuff...

I ordered a couple math books for Cohen...who has been asking, no begging, for me to get him a math book for months and months. He was so excited.

I went ahead and ordered the manipulative kit that went along with it....it came with a lot of things, like these fraction tiles. And a bunch of counters and blocks and such.

Once I ordered all the books- history, handwriting and math. I went shopping. For random stuff to bump my total up to the free shipping minimum.

So I got books

And 12 sided dice

And some art supplies....

Other than now I can happily plan, the great thing about getting a package is this:

When they opened the box, Cale and Rylan played with pattern blocks for long time. Cohen worked with the fraction tiles, Lakin counted bears and then they asked if they could do their books. At 7pm during summer vacation. Rylan and Cale did their handwriting books and Cohen did about 4 pages in his math book. Then I had to force them to take a bath....


Nearly 14 years ago, I met a boy...

About 11 years ago, I got engaged....

And 10 years ago today, I married him.


What I Did on My Summer Vacation

1 month. Give or take. That is our summer vacation around here. July 5th marks the start of our new school year, so my summer vacation is in full swing. What does that mean? Planning.

It means a zillion word documents constantly on my desktopStacks of library books to go though
An ever growing list of bookmarked websites do revisit, like Lesson Pathways.

And as much as I love my computer- I love my binder too. With all my schedules and unit plans. It's where I keep samples of their work and keep track of just about everything.

Like my (constantly evolving) book list for each kid. Books I might want them to read. Ones they might enjoy reading. And a list of all that they did read. My boys are somewhat reluctant readers. They have yet to find those books that they can't put down, that they read for fun, or that they will read at times other than when I tell them too.

I've got the basic outline of the year down. We are doing true history for the first time, instead of random books, projects and units. And we are focusing on Earth Sciences this year since we've spent a lot of time with physical and biological over the years. Now I've just got to get the actual lessons planned out.