Monday, October 29, 2012

When another worksheet just won't do...

It's time for the Math Monday Blog Hop!

My guys love a good worksheet. They really do. I sometimes think that they've decided math just isn't math unless there is a worksheet to fill out. We've been blessed to have found a good math program that works for our guys, Singapore Math.

But sometimes, I just don't want to grade another worksheet. Sometimes, even my guys don't want to look at another page in the math workbook.

On those days, we head to the computer. I believe that kids need to be comfortable on the computer. They need to know how to work one, how to be comfortable with one, and how to be careful and respectful of one. This world is increasingly digital, and every job requires computer skills.

That being said, I also believe that kids should not get in the habit of wasting time on the computer. We limit their use to 30 minutes by themselves per day. If they are sharing, we give them an hour.

There are a gazillion great sites out there for kids and math, but these are some of our favorites:

Sheppard Software Math- Math Man, Monkey Drive, and Fruit Shoot are favorites here. I love that they have different levels and skills for the kids to practice. This site is amazing. It was developed by a technology teacher looking to supplement the almost non-existent software at the school. My kids especially enjoy Math Facts Basketball and Money Bingo. The site is sorted by grade level. Anthony plays at 2-4 grade, and Jerimiah plays at 4-5 grade.

IXL- This is a great site to practice math skills directly on the computer. This isn't really a game site, but it does provide the opportunity for kids to get immediate scoring on their work.

How do you avoid the worksheet?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Fun in the kitchen

Friday Fun Schoolhttp:// 
I'm linking up with Friday Fun School with Ben and Me and It's a Wrap at Hammock Tracks to share our homeschool fun!

I'm trying to be more flexible in our schooling. One reason we chose to homeschool was so we could allow our kids to choose more of their learning topics. By the time they got home from public school, they were worn out, grumpy, and not in the mood to "learn" more. I am not dissing public schools at all. My kids had phenomenal teachers, great resources, and a caring environment. But let's not go there right now.
The point of the story is that I want my kids to choose things to learn about on their own. Things they are passionate about, whether it's drawing airplanes or studying iguanas. (We've done both.) Jerimiah kid has been interested in cooking forever.
I, however, tend to be a bit of a kitchen control freak. As in, if you don't do it my way, you are clearly wrong. Which I am working on. I really am working on it.
This week, after seeing my guy copy recipe after recipe from the books he's gotten at the library, I decided to be brave and teach my kids how to make waffles. From scratch. Previously, they had cooked the waffles after I made the batter, but this time we followed the recipe start to finish.
The waffle recipe we use is found on

I really enjoyed the process. Best of all, I got to see the servant's heart that is developing in my oldest son. He made sure everyone had a plate before he ate, and he made sure he cleaned up after himself as well.
It's good to give up control!

Great American history book

I'm linking up to share my Favorite Resource of the Week with learning ALL the time!!

Favorite Resource This Week

This week we press ever onward to completing the Revolutionary War. We are moving into the government (how it was formed, what each branch does, etc) when we complete this unit. I would love to be talking about the executive branch by the time the election happens, but we'll see. It's not like there's a set schedule I have to follow.

We've really enjoyed several books as we've studied, but this particular book is my favorite. The kids enjoyed it too. Their favorite part was yelling, "WRONG!"

The Journey of the One and Only Declaration of Independence by Judith St. George is a fantastic book. It covers the history of the Declaration, as well as some little known facts about where it has lived, how it was stored, and who had responsibility for it. The illustrations are great too.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Finding the Parallels

In math, Jerimiah is studying parallel and perpendicular lines. He's not really struggling with the concept, but he did need some reinforcement. He's also learning about properties of shapes like rectangles and squares.

I always think that songs are a good way to go...especially for frazzled moms. YouTube came through for me, and we watched these songs, plus some Schoolhouse Rock.

Square Song

The Dance of the Parallel Lines Purely for entertainment purposes

Schoolhouse Rock- Counting by Fives- Completely unrelated for what Jerimiah is learning, but good for Anthony

Schoolhouse Rock Multiplication- Fun one!

After all that high-brow entertainment, we did some serious work by going outside and looking for parallel and perpendicular lines. It was rough, let me tell you. We had to endure beautiful sunny skies and temperatures in the 70's. Pure torture!

 The trees are parallel.
 Riley's ears are parallel.
Anthony's arms are parallel.

Linking up with love2learn2day at

Friday, October 19, 2012

What a week! The Good, the Bad, and the Lazy Fun School

                                     (Check out these great blogs and linky parties!)

We try to follow the school system's schedule pretty closely. It eliminates my stress and worry about the number of days we are in school, plus it allows me to be free for babysitting jobs to supplement our income. Students had three days off this week for Fall Break. So we took those days off too.

So much laziness...

Well, that's not entirely true. My husband's work schedule has been a mess while he covers vacations for the other managers. So he's working something like 12 days straight. This throws our schedule out the door. (By the way, I am so grateful we homeschool during times like this. If we were in public school, my kids would go days without seeing their Dad.)

Jerimiah and Dad taking advantage of the time they have together. Football is a great brain break! Anthony played too, and they had a great time together.

My normal planning day is Wednesday, because we go to the library on Thursday. This week, the husband had to go in to work too early on Thursday for us to make a library trip. So I hurry-planned lessons so we could go on Monday.

So we basically put a halt to our Science and Social Studies lessons. We did a lot of reading this week. We studied poetry (Shel Silverstein is always a favorite) and practiced reading aloud. We did math workbook pages, too. It was a very mellow week.

Anthony loves to make Math Spiders. I found the idea on Pinterest, and we modified it to fit our needs. Mr. A loves to draw, and he loves a break from the workbook.

Notice this spider has more than eight legs. We make Math Spiders on a pretty regular basis, and I told Anthony I wanted him to make a special one for my blog. He overachieved in the best possible way. Normally, we use a smaller number. The goal is use addition and subtraction, but like I said, he was excited.

We also checked out some art books at the library. Anthony is in a "how-to-draw" phase. He got two books this week, one on dinosaurs and one on airplanes. I put together simple books for both boys to practice drawing.

 Anthony's cover page. He is usually a great speller, and he was really bummed when I showed him the correct way to spell it. However, "pitcurse" sounds like a horror novel, and I love it!

 One of Anthony's dino drawings- I think he strayed a bit from the book. My favorite part is the little arms. And the hat. Don't forget the hat!

Jerimiah drew some type of airplane. I'm not an expert. I think it is fantastic.

We continue ever onward on our quest to complete Farmer Boy. It's such a great way to naturally incorporate vocabulary. My next project is to create a vocabulary/dictionary/thesaurus book for the boys to fill in. I'll share it when I'm done!

Hope you've had a fantastic week! 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Linked up with Homeschool Bloggers By State

Looking for other homeschool bloggers in your area? So You Call Yourself A Homeschooler has a great linky party. Find some new blogging friends in your state!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The dictionary app- Vocabulary, here we come!

We are on an never ending quest to improve our vocabulary. I remember being a kid, stuck at a desk, copying definitions, roots, and sentences to learn my five vocabulary words of the week. While it was effective, it was not enjoyable. I don't have this memory because I cherished the experience. Rather, it is indelibly burned on my brain, kind of like a scar lasts forever. I know, enough drama, Mama!

Right now, we are expanding our vocabulary by reading. We are currently enjoying "Farmer Boy" by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Periodically, I'll pause on a word and ask the boys if they have the definition. Usually, the answer is no. We then take a look at the sentence. Can we guess the meaning by sentence clues? This strategy is sometimes effective.

Usually, I bust out my super smart phone, and we check out the Merriam Webster app. This is such a great resource!

My kids' favorite feature is the Voice Search. Nothing is cooler than yelling a word at my phone. It's true. What I love is that as I type in the word, if I'm not using voice search, the app auto-detects what I am trying to spell. Then I choose from the drop down list. It's also great at defining adverbs like "easily" and "quickly." Not that you don't know those words. But in a traditional dictionary, you have to try to find the root word first.

As someone who has suddenly found herself reading aloud A LOT, I love that there is an option to hear the word pronounced. For instance, I came across the the word "haymow" in our book. While I was fairly certain I had the right pronunciation, I gave it a try with my app. I was right. I think it's important to let the boys see me look up words too.

This week we studied Longfellow's "Paul Revere's Ride." While it's historically inaccurate, it was a great way to do some vocabulary building. I had the boys highlight words they didn't know the meaning of, and then they got to use the Merriam Webster app to find the definitions of the word that fit in the context of the poem. Highlighters= fun in our house.

This post is linked up with learning ALL The time!!

Favorite Resource This Week

Friday, October 12, 2012

How much writing does a ninja really do?

Today, the boys wrapped up what we've learned so far about the Revolutionary War by writing newspaper articles about an event we've previously studied. Jerimiah chose the Boston Tea Party, and Anthony wrote about the Boston Massacre.

Can I just tell you, it was excruciating to get those boys to write. You would think I'd covered them in sugar and tied them to an ant hill. Once we got the initial draft, which was difficult, no revision was acceptable to them. Not a single one. I mean, they made them...but it was like I asked them to rewrite Moby Dick or something.

Clearly, writing is not our favorite thing. I LOVE to write (you may have noticed), so I'm perplexed by this. We are going to start incorporating more writing into our everyday lessons. Ideally, this will eventually cut down the resistance to this. We'll see how that goes.

Writing is an essential skill. I discussed this with the boys, but of course they aren't too worried about using writing in their careers. They want to be ninjas. Honestly, how much writing does a ninja really do?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Looking for a few good followers

Hey y'all. This is an embarrassing post. Why? Because, basically I'm begging.

I'm begging you to like me. To follow me.

Don't worry, it's not a lifetime commitment. But could you please follow me? Pretty please? With sugar on top?

 I never thought it would come to this. But it has. You, the reader, complete me. Well, in the blogging sense.

Won't you be, please won't you be, oh won't you follower?

 I feel like a cult leader. But only half as charismatic.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Math and the Great Outdoors

We took advantage of everyone's good health (finally!) yesterday to get outside and enjoy God's beautiful work. We are just starting to have the true feel of fall in our area. And I know when I think of Fall, I think math! Well, maybe not right away, but I did think of Fall and Math together.

In math, the Anthony is working on addition/subtraction and measuring, and Jerimiah is working on geometry/angles. I decided to do a review for them and reinforce graphing and fractions.

First, we went to a beautiful local park. Our mission was to collect data on the trees on our short walk. We counted how many were red, yellow, orange, green, and brown.

The data was then formed into a bar graph. We decided that we wanted to make our bar graph horizontal. This was a great way to review horizontal and vertical.
  Anthony handled the vertical axis by labeling our colors.

 Jerimiah then measured the horizontal axis. He looked at the data, and determined a common factor among most of the numbers. All numbers but one were divisible by three, so we divided our horizontal axis into sections by three. It worked out that each inch equaled one unit.

 Anthony measured to find 6 inches for the number of red trees.

 Then we glued each bar to the correct point on the graph.

 Jerimiah worked on measuring and cutting the yellow bar.

 Dad was hard at work. At the time, I thought he was playing on Facebook. Turns out, he was researching how to make rope. You know, just in case there really was a blackout, like on Revolution. (The TV show.) Good info. I love that man.

 After the graph was completed, we had Jerimiah work on some fractions.

Our completed projects. The kids liked this, but of course they really liked playing at the playground.

How are you working on Math?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

More Revolutionary learning

We continued this week with the study of the Revolutionary War and continued learning about birds. You can read about how we studied birds in the previous post. The kids really enjoyed that!

My goal for the kids is to understand what caused the Revolutionary War. I also want them to see both sides of the conflict. Anthony is a true Patriot. He feels that America is always right. Jerimiah, being a bit older, is more levelheaded. He sees that the treatment of the Colonies wasn't right, but that some of the actions of the Sons of Liberty were not right either.

The Stamp Act of 1765 is a great resource to explain the different taxes and limitations placed on the Colonies by King George III. From this book, the boys created note cards that defined each of the Acts and Proclamations that led to the Revolutionary War.

Eventually, we will be using these note cards to create a timeline of the Revolution. The kids enjoyed this activity, and I enjoyed that they enjoyed it. :)

We also reviewed the Boston Massacre. We watched the video at Mr. Nussbaum's web site. I love this site! I use it all the time. We talked about how the behavior on each side was responsible for the tragedy.

Next week we will start working on simple machines in Science, and we will study the Boston Tea Party in Social Studies.

How was your week?

Resource of the Week- All About Birds

Favorite Resource This Week

This week, I'm joining up with learning All the time!! to bring you my favorite resource of the week.

We studied birds this week, and we made use of All About Birds. This is an amazing website. We listened to bird calls, looked at different birds, and checked to see if we could find these birds in our area. The boys really enjoyed it! Their favorite part was listening to the bird calls.

The site is maintained by CornellLab of Ornithology, so I felt confident that we were using an accurate, credible site.  Check this one out!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Making butter and the Revolutionary War

I thought I might break some of the giant, week-long learning posts into shorter ones. I hope this format is easier to read, and I know it will be easier to write!

Yesterday, we learned about birds by visiting Mr. Nussbaum's site Bird Anatomy. We also visited Learning Games for Kids and watched several videos there. My favorite part though, was learning about birds from DK Eyewitness Books BIRD. I love, love, love this series of books. Every one we have read has given us tons of information in bite-sized, easy to follow pieces.

Today, we start our study of the Revolutionary War. We kicked off with making butter. I realize, butter is not synonymous with Revolutionary War, but it was an activity that was done during that time. Plus, we've read about it in the Little House series. I also thought it would be fun, and since I'm the boss, I won! (It's good to be the boss.)

 Mom, you're seriously taking pictures of this? Seriously? And yes, that is a pickle jar. 

 I'm pretending you aren't taking my picture.

 Butter making MACHINE! :)

 I'll smile, Mom, I'll smile. I know you want people to think we have fun at school. 

 The finished product

 Another shot of the finished product.  I was really proud.

 The taste test. Jerimiah was pretending to be in a commercial. I love that kid.

For some reason, I always have a hard time getting shots of Anthony that are in-focus. Must be because he never sits still!

We are also checking out Social Studies for Kids and more Mr. Nussbaum. We are studying the "Acts" and the Boston Massacre today. We will also learn about Crispus Attucks from this book. It's the bilingual edition, which is fun to look at, though the Spanish is meaningless for now. 

What's going on in your classroom?

Linked up with It's a Wrap.