Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ooooooh Workbox!

A friend of mine said she was thinking of doing the workbox method...I had no idea what she was talking about. So she pointed me to a few websites and I am hooked!
Here's an overview of the process:
You pretty much just set up a big box system where you put each subject in it's own container and they work through them 1-12 till the work for the day is completed. You also throw in a lot of fun activities. It supposed to help the students become more independent workers as well as providing a fun way to become more organized.

I really like this system. Obviously I wouldn't be able to implement the entire system right now. So I'm trying to think of ways that I could begin using it in small doses now. I'm thinking that I'll put the extra activities that we don't/can't do in a doctor's office into the hanging file folder crate I currently have (and don't use except to hold old papers now). I'll throw in some science activities related to what we're learning as well as possible history lessons and definitely fun art and music things.

I'll let you know as we get started and I will take pics to share!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Almost 5 months later....

Wow, has it really been nearly 5 months since my last post? I used to update pretty regularly. I believe I had intended to take the summer off from my homeschool blog since not a lot was going on school wise during that time.

However, since then we had a severe family illness that has shook our world. I had the school year planned out and it was working fine. We had started the beginning of August just to get a little ahead of the school board this year.

We ended up being in doctors offices nearly all day every day. The typical school work that I had chose was not working. There was no way for us to do the school work by carrying all of these books around daily. And There was no way that we would be able to do school after we got home. So I scrapped a few things. The textbook English that I had just began this year, is put aside for now. Instead I replaced it with a simple $10 workbook for 3rd grade English. It's not a big curriculum name, but it works for now. Maybe in the future we'll work back to the textbook. I also decided to place VA History on hold for a year. I am definitely going to keep the text until next year. But for this year I got a workbook of U.S. History. It's not fancy(just $10 each), almost just stories with no actually busy work.

The kids aren't minding the new history but they weren't retaining it very well, so I'm adding a few coloring pages that relate to what we're reading. Science has stayed, but I am using the workbooks that came with the books and my goal is going to be to read a lesson sometime during the day and do the workbook sheet afterward.

I seriously debated scrapping Saxon because there is NO WAY that I could lug that big teacher's manual around! So what I am doing for now, is cutting out the morning meeting (way too many manipulatives needed that I can't take) and we use the workbook sheets. To learn what we should for that lesson, I just take notes on what is being taught for that lesson. It's working pretty well so far.

So after all of these changes, I take a day a week (was doing it daily but weekly makes it so much easier) and put all of our work together for the week, stapled into daily packets. It is working for now. All is smooth. I also take along a little stack of books so that when the packet is complete, they can work on quiet reading time (reading to themselves).

Well, that is the majority of the changes we've undergone so far. Oh and we joined a co-op. It's funny but I already feel like we belong there. The ladies have been so welcoming and helpful with everything. I wasn't sure if we'd be able to continue because we kept missing at first for appointments. But we're getting into the swing of things so far.

I just packed away a box full of work that we've already completed for the year today! This is honestly the best work we've done so far, even in the face of tragedy. And I also realized today that we are about 1/3 of the way through our school year. Very cool. I don't know how much progress we've actually made. I know that they're learning though. That's the main point isn't it.....whether in a doctors office, a school room or at home.... my children are getting an education and that's the most important thing.

My goals: IMPROVING READING SKILLS! This is the biggest thing. I can tell that they have improved some because sis was reading a book last week that she could not even attempt about this time a year ago. Well, she had attempted and got frustrated and gave up. But this is the year for reading! We will come out of this year with excellent reading skills!

Math- just make sure that they are on-par for where they should be with math. I think this is very do-able this year! We're already to lesson 40 out of 140. Progress!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Shock...and a change in our homeschool approach?

Well, Of course we're TECHNICALLY on summer break. But like I mentioned before, we are spending about an hour per day doing math and reading and sometimes we're doing writing. My goal is that by the time August rolls around and school begins again that they will possibly be better readers and writers. Ultimately I'm working towards my goal of independent readers but that will come.

I am shocked that my husband just started talking about homeschool things. For 2 1/2 years now, he has listened to me ramble on with that glazed look in his eye. Every wife knows that look, its the one that says "I'm here, I'm listening but it's going out the other ear just as quickly". I don't get upset by it, its normal and I'm happy he lets me ramble on, regardless of his interest.

However, now he's been reading my homeschool magazines. He'll bring up things like unschooling or question me about Saxon and its difficulty. He now....*gasp and giddy giggle* says that he wants to teach them a class. I've handed over science. It's not that I don't like science, in fact I love it...but it would be nice to have him help out with a class or two, and I figure he'd enjoy science the most.

He also said took over math class today when I was on the phone and was teaching them multiplication. After that, he decided that he'd handle math too. Oh I'm ecstatic! I don't like math anyway, but he's a wiz at it. I'm sure that there are things that he'd be able to teach them, concepts that helped him grasp it, that I just wouldn't even think of!

So coming this August when school starts back, he will be handling science and math and possibly computer. Although I think I'm going to hold off of the computer class until after they learn typing. (I started it this past fall but with our getting behind I dropped it after about a month or two).

I'm so excited! I am looking forward to fall now! yay! Bring on the new school year!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Yay!....writing! Finally!

I am happy to report that Zack (to the best of my memory) wrote his first big paragraph today on his own. It was not school related at all. Nothing I had even requested. He just wrote a note to daddy about playing video games. But hey, can't complain, at least he WROTE a note that wasn't just a pictogram like his birthday wish list was. ;)
That, my dears is progress. Slow and steady wins the race!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

New Directions....

My life is kind of taking on a few interesting changes right now. I will not go into details until they are revealed a little more to me first. But the road is very interesting. things are looking up which is good.

I've stopped freaking out so much about school right now. I'm just having the kids do some math and reading and maybe some writing right now. I do want to work on the reading part a lot more over the summer and I'll continue with it daily I believe. We'll probably also work on some math until the end of June at least. We'll see how it goes. But I'm not stressing out about it though.

On a side note, Sierra has really gotten into writing now. Her spelling is way off of course, but she'll just write us notes for the fun of it. Her grammar is typically very good, the sentences are very well put together. Zack of course still hates writing. He just has no use of it yet. For his upcoming birthday he wrote me a list of things he wanted. This list consisted of drawings. For example, a drawing of a game, a plus sign and a drawing of Indiana Jones, another plus sign, and the word legos. He'll get there soon, I'm sure.

I am just in such a happy place right now. Things are so good, which is a drastic change and I think God has plans for us soon! :)

Monday, May 11, 2009

John Henry field trip....

We went on a very impromptu field trip this past monday...May 4th. To move to something lighthearted and simpler for the duration of the year, I had decided to study some American Legends and Tall Tales...

We had studied a few different ones such as Johnny Appleseed (which is based on the man John Chapman who not only planted apples but preached as well); Paul Bunyan (which apparently isn't based on one specific man that they can trace back, but many different legends); Casey Jones, and John Henry.

John Henry was an actual "Steel Driving Man" and it turns out that the Big Bend Tunnel in Talcott, WV was the location of his infamous challenge. I found out that it was only 2 1/2 hours from here so of course...FIELD TRIP!

We had to get lost first...because no good journey excludes this point. Here is the road that we weren't supposed to be under. It was the tiniest little road with a beautiful river next to it!

*See how tiny that road was the wrong road of course!*

Then we stopped to check out a lake. It was so pretty and the view was amazing. I noticed the sign said "Army corps of Engineers" to which I said 'what, did the army make the lake?'.....

*this bridge had so many pot holes, we were afraid of falling through! I was afraid to tread....Dwayne was afraid he'd lose his tread....on his tires..I know, I'm no comedian*

*This is only half of the view of the lake, it was huge!*

...Only to discover that it was a dam, so yes, they had made the lake, lol. There were people fishing from the small overlook next to the bottom. I think this was probably the kids' favorite spot.

**You can tell we are homeschoolers...the comment "Look at that tire!" led to a discussion about water currents and forces etc**

**The poor tire...doomed to float in that same spot forever....or until someone moves it**

More driving and getting lost in a town (don't trust google maps, lol) before we got on the right road again. We almost missed it, it was only a small little spot on the side of the road. There stood the large (supposedly life size) statue of John Henry.

There was also a red caboose that was closed and a marker as well as a ball that we suppose had a purpose of some sort, and another marker that was missing it's plaque. I would love to find out what those meant.

*The red caboose*

**Isn't this the coolest statue ever!**

**Of course Zack has to pose...If I say smile he has a cheesy grin...if I say 'no seriously' then he looks mad or sad, lol

**The plaque at the foot of the statue**

**This is standing just at the foot looking up, it is a massive statue. **

**The landmarker**

**The large round rock...I have no clue what it is or supposed to be...maybe part of the rock from the tunnel...I'm just guessing here. I think I'll contact the town of Talcott and see what I can find out**

**Another mystery....what did this plaque used to say?**

There wasn't a spot at the bottom to look at the actual tunnel but signs did say that the John Henry landmark would be moving soon, however they looked as old as the location itself. I was really dissapointed with how the landmark seems to have been let go. You would think that being this tiny (20 minutes away from the interstate) town's only real attraction that it would have been better taken care of.

When we got home I did some reading and found out that the holes all of the statue are actually bullet holes, that it was once doused in white paint and that for some time they had to keep it behind a large fence for protection. It is really quite sad.

I would love to rally people together to fix up this landmark and make it portray the glory that the legend of John Henry himself portrays....overcoming adversity, perserverance and determination. I just have no idea who you'd get in touch with. I just have an idea that if the African American community would see the state of their greatest fold hero that perhaps they'd want to do something about it. I personally would love to do something about it!

But overall, the field trip was a blast and I loved being able to stand in the footsteps of one of America's greatest legends of all times! Is that thunder I hear??? No, must be John Henry striking that hammer! :D