Friday, August 31, 2007

I'm procrastinating

Are you tired of me changing my blog template? lol. It's one of those things where one day, something seems appealing, then another day, I'm thinking, "Why did I pick that??"

In any case, this babble of mine is procrastination. I ought to be working on school stuff. I'm tired, though, and can't figure out where to start. So I'm avoiding starting. Make sense?

Let me start here. What I really need to have for next week is:
  • 16yo's math for the week
  • 16yo's social studies for the week
  • 16yo's chemistry for the week (this may be close to done)
  • 16yo's French (this is just about done, actually, as I worked on the assignment sheets this morning)
  • 13yo's detailed LA plan (for the week, not for the year)
  • 13yo's math worksheets for the week
  • 13yo's French for the week
  • 13yo's science for the week (this is pretty much already decided upon, I think, but it's not written out)
  • 13yo's social studies for the week
  • a plan for the first day
  • dd's work chart
  • light plans for dd's math, French, science and social studies (I don't even know if I actually need anything prepped for this as I don't remember what we're doing for it)
  • ditto for ds

Written out like that, it's not so bad. I guess it's that for the 16yo, I want to have the whole semester laid out for her, a syllabus of sorts. Plus, with her chemistry, I've been going through and adding in various tips and reminders from What Smart Students Know. I'd like to do the same for her social studies. I just feel like these things are the way to start off the courses and I should really have them done! But, to be honest, they're not as important as having the actual necessary prep work done for Tuesday.

I've got the 16yo's social studies right next to me. I guess I'll give that a go.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

School's almost here!

I'm getting excited. I'm so looking forward to the start of this school year. Eager to get going with stuff, establishing routines. Eager to cover some of the topics I've chosen for this year so that I can learn about it. lol

With it Wednesday today and being busy on the weekend, I pretty much only have today, tomorrow and Friday to get things ready for Tuesday. I don't have my plans worked out as much as I would have liked, but that's okay. For the next three days, my focus will be just on making sure everything for the first week is ready.

What do I need to have ready?

*The 16yo's chemistry scheduling, worksheets and quiz questions. For this last one, I'm going to make a daily quiz for her--maybe 5 to 10 questions--based on what she's already covered. Instead of trying to guess what she'll have covered and preparing quizzes ahead of time, I've started going through the text and setting up quiz questions that I can easily copy and paste into a new document and print off.

*The 16yo's math review sheets or directions to pages to be done. I bought a bunch of The Key to... books and will probably have her do them, but write the answers on a separate sheet of paper. (There was no way I was going to purchase a set for each child! They can write their answers on paper.)

*The 16yo's French work: grammar sheets, stuff to read, writing assignment. Ooh, I just had a thought of something I should add in her plan: she HATES using the dictionary but it's crucial, especially in a second language situation and the fact she'll be taking an exam worth 100% of her French 30 mark. I'll assign something where she has to look up words. :D

*The 13yo's LA work. While the reading is taken care of (I've chosen Fantastic Mr. Fox for our daily reading together), I need to think about writing ideas based on that, plus decide once and for all what I'm using for his phonics/spelling (I think I'll continue with The Writing Road to Reading, but maybe have one day a week set aside for Phonics Pathways or the McGuffey Speller). Also, pick his grammar work for the week. I do want him to transcribe some cursive into print, but that can probably wait a week. We've really only got 3 work days next week since Tuesday morning will be in part looking at plans, goals, getting things set up, having him look at the TLE math and see how he thinks it'll work for him, etc.

*The 13yo's reading assessment. I think I've got a grade 4 assessment on my computer that I want to have him do. If he does great on it, great! I'll ask him if he wants to do a harder one to see if he can do it. If he doesn't do great on it, then I will give him the test again at a later date so he can see his improvement.

*The 13yo's math assessment--I've started putting together a kind of test to have something 'formal' to show where he's at right now for various math skills and then give him the same assessment at the end of the year to show improvement. I went through our provincial program of studies and pulled out outcomes for grades 2-7. I want to be able to really show him where his weaknesses are, where things are going great, and then he'll see the reason for me giving him the extra practice work.
*The 13yo's math extra practice work. I already know fairly well where his issues are, so it shouldn't be too hard putting some stuff together.

*The 13yo's social studies--I don't think I decided what he was going to do for this or not! I'll have to check my plans, but other than what I blogged (which was just a "maybe"), I'm quite sure I haven't planned for this. So, I need to figure out what he'll do for social studies and then prepare any materials for that.

*The 13yo's French work. I haven't even looked at topics or anything. I'm going to have him focus on the gr. 4 topics this month as he really hasn't done any of the reading and writing. Gosh, I know I've said this before, that I'd do this with him, but before it was kind of a "Oh, let's do this" whereas now it feels like a, "This is what's going to be done." I want him to be able to handle the gr. 8 FSL by the end of the year so that he has the option of taking the gr. 9 FSL in a school next year. There's a deadline in place!

*Dd's science. I know I was excited about the topics but I haven't look at them in a bit.

*Dd's social. Same as for science.

*Dd's math. She has this mathwork book now, so maybe I'll just let her go with it and check off things that she covers. If she's not in the workbook mood, I've got my plan. I should probably decide some specific lessons to do with her so I'm ready.

*Dd's work plan chart.

*Ds's science.

*Ds's social.

*Ds's work plan chart. This is going to be new for him to do this year. It'll be really simple!

*Inspirational quotes or affirmations to share and put up.

I've really got to get going here. The 11yo I had with us for 4 years is spending the day with us today and could show up any minute!

Seeing our children

The kids (my kids) and I went to dh's soccer game last night. (They won! Woohoo! It was the final!) At one point, I looked over at dd who was standing with her grand-maman and I "saw" her. You know what I mean? I saw her shortness and just everything and realized how much of a kid she really is. I know I've blogged it before but it's worth saying again: I think parents and adults can forget a lot just how much of a kid kids really are. We expect them so quickly to 'behave' and to remember how to do things. Many expect more from kids than they do from adults! This is so unfair to them because they are just kids, learning day-by-day how this crazy world of ours works and their role in it.

In any case, for a short while, I saw dd. It was a wonderful moment of full appreciation. It also had me think about myself at that age. It was like I saw just how much of a kid I was just before going into gr. 5. It was somehow very humbling.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Just some thinking this Saturday morning

My mind is so stuck on the 13yo wanting to go to school. I keep thinking about how likely it is that he'll want to go for gr. 9--ONE year to get him ready. I don't know if it's do-able, so I guess I just have to do my best.

I'm going to guess that he hasn't done any reading this summer whatsoever, so, I kind of worked out a plan to work incrementally through the year through different grade levels for his language arts work. Here's the continuation of an idea I had a while back:

Each month will have a specific grade focus. I can't decide whether to start with grade 3--which would be comfortable, except for the writing requiremetns--or grade 4--which could be a bit of a challenge. If I start with grade 3, this would be the sequence:

Sept.--grade 3
Oct.--grade 4
Nov.--grade 5
Dec./Jan.--grade 6
Feb./March--grade 7
April/May--grade 8

Of course, I could modify it a bit and have that as just the writing focus with the reading being a little more challenging.

To be honest, this isn't really any different than what I'd been planning before I found out about this little 'crisis' of his. So why does part of me feel panicked? I think that part of it is that I wasn't worried so much about his actually being able to do the different levels on grade level, but to be exposed and get a good feel for the type of requirements, even if he was being incredibly supported to complete it. I guess part of it is that I felt that if he had the next two years with me, there was a chance he could go back to school without any type of accommodations or whatever (he was previously assessed as LD with the public school board), but if he goes back in year, I just don't know. It all depends on his academic abilities.

Is it reasonable to expect a child to catch up that much in a year? It's hard to say. How many cases have I heard of homeschooled or free schooled boys his age who hadn't read before and decided to read and were reading at grade level within a year? I've seen him in the past gain a year in his reading within a few months. I think that with the work I'm going to have him do, I can add at least 2 years to his reading level for this coming year. But I don't know that I can do much more than that if *he's* not going to put forth the effort. If he were to read just an extra 30 minutes a day throughout the school year, I'm sure he would easily add another year or 2 to those gains. I'm serious. This is a kid who, once he really puts in some effort, he learns well. Yes, he had things in the way in his early years (part of it was that he just was not ready to be in school), and he does have little quirks that block, but I've seen what him doing just a bit of extra reading can do. Geez, with barely any reading, his reading level still goes up dramatically!

I'm starting to babble. I'll go do something else now.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Just stuff

So, yeah, changed my blog layout again. lol. I just wasn't happy with the colours I'd picked and didn't feel like trying every single colour to come up with something I'd enjoy, so I found a template I liked and change the template.


The 13yo (entering gr. 8) has been hanging around with public schooled friends this summer. Friends who have convinced him that he *needs* to go to school. They have him convinced that it's so much fun. I don't think he realizes just how much work it is. His academics are behind in part because he can't handle his emotions enough to stick things through and do the work he needs to. I'd be willing to bet (and I don't bet) that if he went to school, by the end of September, he'd be asking to homeschool again. He's just not ready. I know he needs to go to school at some point, but it's not this year! He only started really coming back up after the dive he took following his parents' separation and the beginning of the divorce procedures. Fortunately, his mom has not fallen for it and they apparently had a long talk. I had been counting on having the 2 years to get him up to snuff both in work skills and in academics, but if I can help him get some good work skills going, then maybe gr. 9 is a possibility. Or maybe part-time gr. 9--if he registers with the public school board for homeschooling, he'd be allowed to go take a couple of classes at a jr. high sort of near my place. It'd be a good transition to going to high school, which I know he DEFINITELY needs. Not just for the social aspect, because he's one of those kids who would LOVE the social stuff in high school, but because he needs that transitional phase before graduating.

Fortunately, one of his homeschool buddies is back living near us and we should be seeing him more often. I *really* hope that they'll be seeing each other the first day of school--a 'pointing out' that he's having fun with his friends while his public schooled friends are sitting in desks and getting homework to do that evening, might help the year start off well. I don't know. I guess we'll have to see. It'll either be the year starts off with attitude because he doesn't want to homeschool anymore or it'll start off with enthusiasm so that he can prove himself to be able to go to school. *sigh* Well, at least I won't have to deal with a small fear I had of him balking at going to school for gr. 10. lol.


I started doing some of the 16yo's chem work today. The planning's not quite done, but I decided that I really needed to have some answers in place for at least the first week of work--the textbook only has some answers and I don't know if the chem teacher from the school will have those answers up on the website. So, I got some questions done. It's actually not bad for me to be doing them, even the ones that do have answers, as I get a feel for how long they actually take to do.


Time for me to go play Sims for a bit.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Getting excited about school!

I'm getting excited about starting the new school year. I'm feeling rather rested today, so that undoubtedly helps. ;) However, plans are just coming into place nicely, I LOVE that I have specifics laid out for the year so that I don't have to think and decide--it's already there if needed. I also love that there's nothing requiring me to follow the plans exactly--if, when studying North America, they get really caught up in the Spanish and Aztec and it takes longer, so be it! We don't have to do it all. We don't have to rush to get it all done.

Related to excited about the new school year, I was looking at the 13yo's TLE (The Learning Equation) for Math 8 and it looks really good. He may need supplementation here and there or certain lessons BEFORE being able to do some of it since he really hasn't completed his gr. 7 math, but I think the lesson format will be great for him. He's supposed to be getting a laptop for school stuff, which means he can have TLE loaded into his laptop and can sit wherever he wishes to do the lessons. MathPower is an excellent program, but in terms of helping him become more independent, I think TLE will be great. What's so great about it? The visuals, the information read out loud to him, activities where you click on and move numbers and words to the correct spots--if it's not correct, it won't stick, giving you immediate feedback and another change to get it right--and when you have to type numbers in, if it's wrong, it'll say "Try again"; get it wrong again, it gives you a clue; get it wrong again, it'll tell you what the answer is. Basically, it's a bit like playing a video game--if you get things wrong, you've got other chances. This doesn't come across the same on paper as you don't get the immediate feedback.

One thing I have to be SUPER specific about with him and will need to monitor is that he actually pays attention to the lessons and sets about learning and understanding the information, NOT just getting through the lesson! There are self-checks at the end of lessons which do NOT give immediate feedback but tell you afterwards, so I guess it'll show whether he's learning the information or just 'getting the work done'.

I haven't looked yet at TLE for the 16yo, although we have it here. I'm not sure if she'll prefer that or to just stick with the textbook.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

It's official: two weeks left!

Only two weeks left until my nephew goes back to school and the two oldest come to me for school. Yikes!

I have to finish the 13yo's plans, including the specifics of his first week (or perhaps the specifics of what *I* have to do if I can't specify content rate). I worked on his language arts plan yesterday. Left to do for him: have a look at the gr. 8 math text and the TLE CDs and get an idea of what will actually work best for him; roughly plan out his science; roughly plan out his social studies if I'm not having him do the same as dd; plan out a French course; plan out any tracking charts; plan out the first week.

For the 16yo, I'm in the process of planning out her Chemistry. The school doesn't have things ready yet as a guide and I kind of decided that it's not a bad idea as my assignment list has various study tips added in here and there, mainly things I've taken from What Smart Students Know. Her French isn't done yet, her CALM isn't done yet, I need to have another look at her Social Studies now that I have the textbooks and distance learning materials. Math is math, although it wouldn't be a bad idea for me to prepare some quizzes and extra practice sheets before the year gets started. Oh, and I want to put together questions that can be used for chem quizzes as I plan on giving her a really short quiz pretty much every day! Slowly build up her confidence in test-taking, plus just really show her the kind of practice it takes to learn material. Some reminders/tips that show up in her chem plan and just on a welcoming sheet for the year are that the average (C) student does only what is required; the above-average student (A/B) does more than just what is required. Other than that, nothing else has to be prepared for first semester. I still have to finish reading Lord of the Flies for her English (second semester) and we'll see about me maybe setting up her bio and physics the way I'm setting up her chem. Physics will probably require extra practice for sure. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Oh, and one last thing for all of them is to fill in the ed. plan form for our school board.

Other than that, I have some more school supply shopping to do and have the 'school room' (where certain texts, binders and personal items are kept) to clean up. Lots of stuff to do!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Ds's plan

So, some changes to my blog layout. Not sure if I'm really happy with this one, but I might still fiddle around with it. It just feels like it's missing something!

In any case, on to ds's school plan (grade 1/2--technically grade 2, but he really isn't at a grade 1 level yet for reading and writing):

LANGUAGE ARTS (basically for the whole year, progressing as needed)
-alphabet, phonics, phonetic word building and reading, copying words down for labelling and short sentences, print and cursive (primarily A Beka workbook for the cursive)
-themes: family, seasons, stuff tied in with other subject areas, celebrations/holidays...

Sept: place value (units through thousands; use Golden Bead materials), reading and writing numbers from 1 to 9999 (Golden Beads, cards, bead frame, stamp game), reading and writing number words from 1-10, basic facts addition practice (Ray's Arithmetic or more traditional Montessori activities)

Oct: estimating objects up to 100; use of < = > in comparing numbers, putting numbers in order, creating sets of specific numbers under 100 (for example, using different combinations of units and tens), continuing with addition in Ray's, reading and writing number words to 20

Nov: multi-digit addition with and without regrouping (starting with Golden Beads, moving onto stamp game, maybe onto bead frame);

Dec: presenting multiplication as repeated addition (possible use of Ray's Arithmetic here)

Jan: subtraction (with Montessori materials and Ray's arithmetic)--basic facts, multi-digit subtraction with and without regrouping (using Montessori materials)

Feb: possible continuation of subtraction; otherwise, introduction to division

March: clocks (read on the hour, half-hour and quarters on an analog clock); money (naming coins and bills, how many pennies are in dimes, quarters and loonies; how many loonies in the different dollar bills; maybe tie it to the Golden Beads and have him predict how many dimes in a dollar); measurement (measuring in cm, dm and m)

April: geometry (naming cubes, spheres, cones, pyramids; creating skeletons; identifying vertices, faces and edges); symmetry

May: fractions (identifying and labelling basic fractions (1/2, 1/4, 2/5); basic addition, subtraction and multiplication of fractions)

SCIENCE (can be scrapped at any time if his interests move him elsewhere scientifically; and of course, Magic School Bus books and videos, John Acorn videos and other things he chooses will be tied in)
Sept: zoology--external structure of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals

Oct: internal structure of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals

Nov: research on animal(s) of interest ("animal stories")

Dec: dinosaurs (this could extend longer than Dec!)

Jan: astronomy (some people start the school year off with astronomy, but Dec/Jan is the best time to see stars without having to stay up super late)--solar system, astronomical objects, creation of stars, possibly constellations

Feb: the five senses

March: magnetism

Apr: buoyancy

May/June: unschooled/follow interests

(My science plan is not reflective of a typical Montessori lower elementary class; however, with my lack of training and knowledge, I'd rather have things a bit disjointed than not have anything at all!)

Sept: continents and land forms; the calendar: days of the week, months of the year, seasons

Oct: North America (more in-depth on Belize and Canada); personal timeline, family tree

Nov: parts of a mountain, mountains in North America (he saw the Rockies this past summer); the year 200_ (introducing why we have the years we do, AD/BC); begin light ancient civilization study and add to timeline book

Dec: parts of a volcano, North American volcanoes; keep moving through history into Western civilization

Jan: north, south, east, west, basic use of maps; keep moving through history, with a focus on Greece

Feb: European geography; adding to timeline pages with information on Roman civilization

Mar: adding to timeline with information on Middle Ages plus expanded study in this area (he LOVES books on medieval times)

Apr: adding to timeline with Renaissance period

May/June: open--I frankly wouldn't be surprised if some of the earlier topics take longer than anticipated and we don't get as far as I'd planned!

So, those are my basic plans. Feels good to have them done. Now I'm going to move back to the 16yo's chemistry course.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

I think they're done!

I think my basic plans for my two are done! Yay!

If you REALLY want to know what's in them, keep reading. It's the only content for the rest of this post. :) Slightly modified/simplified because otherwise too complicated!

DD (grade 5)
FRENCH/ENGLISH (not broken down into months just yet, or perhaps ever, lol)
-reading, composition, phonics, syllabication
-grammar: articles and nouns (gender and number in French), adjectives (gender and number in French), verbs and conjugation, adverbs, prepositions, pronouns
-punctuation, possessives, capitalization, homophones, homonyms, synonyms, antonyms, etc.
-maybe start sentence analysis or sentence diagramming if I can get a good grasp of it myself
-general areas: poetry, short stories, novels, non-fiction, writing reports, taking bibliographical information, paraphrasing, etc.

Sept: number concepts (place value from 1/1000 to 1 million; count by 25s, count backwards by 2, 5, 10 and 100; write numbers in word form)
Oct: addition and subtraction (tables, problem solving)
Nov: multiplication (tables, problem solving, 3-digit by 1-digit, 3-digit by 2-digit--use multiplication checkerboard; whole multiplied by decimal number)
Dec: multiples, factors, composite and prime numbers
Jan: division (tables, 2- and 3-digit by 1-digit division; decimal number divided by whole number)
Feb: fractions (using Ray's and Key to Fractions)
March: ratios, percentages, decimals and their relationship to fractions
April: measurement (perimeter, area, volume;) and geometry (triangle classification, shape and object names, shapes based on number of sides, complete drawing of 3D objects)
May: transformations (slides, turns (rotations), flips (reflections)
June: pre-algebra

Sept: scientific method and experiments (chemistry); weather (clouds, types of storms, etc.)
Oct: chemistry likely continued; electricity (experiments, info plus history)
Nov/Dec: biology/zoology: classification and research; chemistry possibly still continued
Jan/Feb: vital functions (digestive, respiratory, circulatory, etc.) of vertebrates (will include a look at external and internal structure of vertebrates)
March/April: vital functions of invertebrates
May/June: botany (if the above two topics really will only take that long): parts of the plant, needs of the plant, possibly things like classification, type, etc. Some Montessori stuff I found but haven't learned enough about yet.

Sept: world geography (continents, oceans, seas, explorers?, latitude, longitude)
Oct: North America (country names, capital cities, major bodies of water); Belize (geography and modern living); Canada (provinces and territories, capital and major cities, major bodies of water; explorers?)
Nov: South America (country names, capital cities, major bodies of water); notebooking on a country of choice (things to include: clothing, landscapes/scenery, habitats, animals, plants, etc.); explorers?
Dec: Oceania/Antarctica (country names, capital cities, bodies of water; geographical points of Antarctica; notebooking on a country of choice)
Jan: Europe (same as above)
Feb: Africa (same as above)
Mar: Asia (same as above)
April/May: in-depth study on a country of choice (choice between latitudinal or longitudinal study)
June: unschool

FOREIGN LANGUAGES (Spanish and German)
-we're not looking at a lot of work here, but at least exposure; dd has said she'd like to focus on German (2x a week) and just a little bit of Spanish (1x per week)
Sept: alphabet, phonics, calendar
Oct: family
Nov: self
Dec: school
Jan: clothing
Feb: my home
Mar: food
Apr: weather
May: animals
June: songs and games

I haven't actually planned anything for this; I don't really feel the need to introduce or do anything specific as we kind of do things here and there and I'm fine with that!

Well, this took FOREVER what with a multitude of interruptions. I'll share ds' plan another time.

I need to learn to stick to plans...

My plans for this week were to finish up dd's and ds's school plans for the year. They're coming along and going well, but for whatever reason, I found myself looking at the 16yo's chemistry for first semester. With the time I've spent so far looking through it AND trying to work out a rough schedule (since the school website doesn't have the new course up yet), I'm sure I could have had my kids' plans done. Yeesh.

I'll go back to my kids' plans now! (My kids, btw, are quietly concentrated on self-chosen art activities at the moment. Dd is using watercolour pencils--they're like pencil crayons, but used on watercolour paper and you can brush over parts with water and it's like you'd painted--and I'm not entirely sure what ds is doing. Actually kind of looks like he's pretending to use a feather as a pen like in the 'olden days'. Things are so much calmer around here after the week of 4 busy, noisy kids!)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Follow Up

A follow up to previous posts on planning. I've kind of worked out some year plans for my son:

-phonics: basic alphabet sounds as well as combinations (ou, on, an, ill, etc.)
-handwriting: print and cursive
-be able to write basic phonetic words
-be able to read basic phonetic words
-be able to read a beginner French book that he has NOT had read to him (otherwise he pretty much memorizes the book and doesn't look at the words, just "reads" from memory)

I've had a look at the APS and modified certain things to fit better with my Montessori materials. It's rather detailed so I will try to summarize quickly:

  • number concepts: numbers to 9999, read and write number words to 20, fractions
  • number operations: work towards mastery of addition and subtraction tables; start multiplication and division; be able to add and subtract numbers up to 9999
  • days of the week, months of the year, seasons, hours, minutes...
  • money
  • measuring in cm, dm and m
  • cubes, spheres, cones, pyramids; making their skeletons; identifying vertices, edges and faces
  • symmetry: creating a symmetrical 2D shape by drawing half, folding and cutting

I *almost* looked at APS for this, but then just thought about my son's interests and looked at the old moteaco sequence for ages 6-9. Here's what I've come up with:
  • zoology: external (fish, amphibian, reptile, bird, mammal); internal (fish, amphibian, reptile, bird, mammal), "animal stories" (little research projects on animals; this could be done as notebooking instead); beginning classification
  • astronomy: solar system, astronomical "objects" (comets, nebuale, etc.), formation of stars
  • Magic School Bus books :D

Social Studies

  • continents and oceans
  • Canada, Belize
  • land forms
  • parts of a mountain; parts of a volcano
  • north, south, east, west
  • using our timeline book

Now, none of this has been worked out in terms of months or anything yet. Just a beginning plan!

    Plans for the year until Christmas holidays

    A topic came up on a Montessori list that I thought I would think more about here than on the list: what are your plans and goals for the first half of the year?

    Our first half really goes until the end of January, but Christmas break provides a nice division so I'll do it for that.

    For my dd:

    My plan is to help her build confidence in French reading and writing. She also needs to start a more formal grammar study. The reading will be paired reading, with us taking turns reading to each other; I've found this the best way for her to build confidence and be interested. For her writing, I'll keep using little games and really short story writing and poems for the bulk of it--she loves writing poems, so it's not some horrible thing I've inserted there. ;) I say "keep" even though she's done very little French writing in the past. (Shameful on my part, really, since French is her first language, but she reads more in English, so English writing is what she does 99.9% of the time on her own.) Once she's built up some sort of confidence, then we can look at more complicated writing. Of course, she will have some French writing tied in with her science and social studies, too.

    By Christmas, my plan is to have shown her work for the following:

    • number concepts (reading and writing numerals and number words from thousandths to millions; counting by 25; counting backwards by 2, 5, 10 and 100; rounding),
    • addition and subtraction (mainly problem solving, but with some estimating involving rounding; plus her tables--she has good recall of the addition, decent recall of the subtraction, both of which can be improved),
    • multiplication (tables, 3-digit by 1-digit multiplication, 3-digit by 2-digit multiplication, problem solving)
    • multiples, factors, composite numbers and primes

    Focus is on learning the scientific method. By Christmas, my plan is to have covered information on the scientific method and how to write up good reports, plus the topics weather, electricity, biology/zoology (classification and research an animal).

    *Social Studies*
    Geography is our focus this year, tying in things such as cultures, animals, habitats, etc. By Christmas, my plan is to have done general world geography (continents, oceans, seas), North America, South America, Oceania and Antarctica. (This plan is open to change if she gets really engrossed in a particular topic and isn't ready to move on.)

    *Art and Music*
    I don't have any specific plans here, at least not yet! She is very self-directed in these areas. I do know she wants to work on recorder, so we'll see what kind of plan the two of us can come up with.

    For my ds:
    Phonics and handwriting: my goal is for him to know the basic sounds of all the letters of the alphabet and be able to put together simple phonetic words. Also, just general practice for both print and cursive.

    I haven't worked anything else out yet for ds! More coming later.

    For the 16yo, she will be almost done her social studies, math, chemistry and the first half of her French. She will also either be half-done her CALM course or all done, depending on how she decides to go about it. I also hope that she will have read at least one decent-level book outside of her class work.

    For her brother, primary goal is to get the reading and writing going strong, plus his math. For science, do things from his chemistry kit at LEAST once a week, ideally twice, plus have him working with Science for Young Catholics 7. No plan yet for social studies.


    That's it for now, although I have to say I'm enjoying the sun coming up later: my kids are sleeping later! :)

    Thursday, August 16, 2007

    Further Progress

    I have sinus headache today plus am tired as I got woken up by some neighbours just before 5 (I don't know what they were doing outside at that time, but they were loud enough to come through our open window and have part of my sleeping brain go, "Hey, there's somebody talking!"). Ds has been up for a while but I have no desire to try to do any type of school stuff with him. HE's tired, too, and has holed himself up with a book on the sofa--having covered himself in pillows. It's really cute.

    In any case, I'm working on dd's ed plan right now. I found some Montessori elementary sites with a bit of science topic information on them and have plugged those in for now. One school had the kids in upper elementary (grades 4-6) focus on experiments and the scientific method. Sounds great! Even if I can't have a specific theme, having the focus of learning the scientific method and writing up proper reports is great. We also have a chemistry kit--13yo has the same one and wants to do that for science this year. While the kit says not for kids under 12 and dd's only turning 10, it's designed for home use and she's super careful and responsible so I think she'd be fine. That'll be used a lot for sure. I also plugged in some extra topics:

    Sept: weather (will be tied in with social studies topic of world geography--includes study of the oceans/seas, which can lead to studying hurricanes and tsunamis and all that)

    Oct: electricity

    Nov./Dec.: zoology (classification)

    Jan./Feb.: vital functions of vertebrates

    Mar./Apr.: vital functions of invertebrates

    May/Jun.: botany

    THIS I feel comfortable with. I'm going to have to do a lot of learning in these areas myself, but I think they are great areas to be studying. I have no clue if I'll be bringing ds in on these or not.

    I've also got social studies worked out. I'm glad I did this now because I was going to put Canada as one of our social studies topics but it seems that in planning things out, I'm more comfortable with doing something more global (pun not intended) than focus on Canadian history right now. Here's my social studies plan (at least for dd):

    Sept.: world geography--continents, oceans and seas (including life in them), explorers; general approach will be notebooking each continent (not a notebook each, just sections of a notebook called Les continents) with different images and information she digs up. We have a TON of National Geographics so that shouldn't be a problem!

    Oct.: North America--countries and capitals, major bodies of water, major topographic features (deserts, mountains), plants and animals, Belize (why Belize? because the girl I used to homeschool will be moving there in Oct. :) ). For our study of Belize, I think we'll focus more on the Belize of today--the people, customs, food, etc.--rather than history, although we could touch on that, too, I suppose.

    Nov.: South America--like the above with countries, capitals, etc. May or may not focus on one country. Definitely look at some of the explorers.

    Dec.: Oceania and Antarctica

    Jan.: Europe

    Feb.: Africa

    March: Asia

    April-June: large study of a country of choice after having had the 'big picture' view of the world. Can look at the country's present and its different facets (how humans meet their needs) or a historical study.

    I've been thinking I'll tie the 13yo's social studies in with dd's. The Alberta grade 8 curriculum has some great topics (Renaissance and the Spanish vs. the Aztecs which could be tied into our studies a bit) but part of me is really leaning to him having good geographical knowledge of the world before delving into its history without a sense of the world. At the same time, he is in grade 8, so I might have to think about how to 'up' certain things here and there or perhaps just have him follow a different plan entirely.

    Those are my plans so far. I need to get off the computer and eat and be ready for my niece and nephew (shoot, I haven't thought about activities for today--my sinus issues this week have really done a number on me!). I'll leave you with a funny photo of our cat, Sunny:

    A Sign?

    I'm sitting here typing up a rough plan for dd's school year having added in a grid this morning science. I was going with the plan of walking through the different APS (Alberta Program of Studies) topics and not feeling great about it. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I told myself to just keep putting them in--these are backup topics essentially.

    Well, I finished the science column and was getting ready to start the social studies column when my computer crashed. Word was not able to recover what I'd added for science this morning and I hadn't saved. I thought, "Great, I've got to do it all over!" but now I'm thinking, "Hey, this is a chance to put things in I actually like the idea or order of!"

    Maybe the computer crashing was a sign. ;)

    Wednesday, August 15, 2007

    I'm tired!

    It's past 4:30. I'm ready to be done for the day. lol. I still have niece and nephew here. I didn't have them yesterday, which was good, because I wasn't feeling super great. Unfortunately, it meant that I totally forgot about my routine of making a list the night before of things to set out to do. So, this morning, I kind of remembered and pulled out a couple of things, which ds did long before my nephew showed up. lol. Ah man... Morning was good, but they started getting rowdy just before lunch. Then we ran some errands (picked up a few school supplies) and came back. Dd and I made cookies while ds and nephew alternated between playing and looking at books. Now, however, they're ALL sitting in front of the tv because our Playstation 3 arrived today and dh got it hooked up while we were out. We don't have any games, but there are some free or cheap games available through the PS3 that dh has found. I'm guessing my 2 will forget about the Incredibles 2 game for X-Box they have out from Blockbuster. ;) *sigh* Sooo much screen time this week!!

    One thing that happened today was my nephew asked if we could watch a movie. I said no, not today. He half whined and said they didn't get to watch a movie yet this week (he came only twice last week and both days we did end up watching a movie). I asked him if he watches a movie every day at home. He said yes. I replied, "We don't. They get to watch one or two movies per week usually and that's it--one on Friday and sometimes another on the weekend. Only sometimes do they get movies during the week. Today's not a movie day." He seemed to accept it, despite not being happy about not watching a movie, but ds distracted him right away with some activity and it was all kind of left alone. But it points to me two things: I need to be prepared for his request of a movie/computer time because he gets a more of it at home than he does here and that's kind of his "routine", something that's not always easily broken; and I need to be more prepared with my environment and activities, not only to help prevent the "I don't know what to do" state, but to also have something to offer if they do hit that state and end up getting goofy instead of finding something to do. I say 'goofy' like it's a bad thing, but it really isn't just light-hearted child's play--it's like a caffeine injection or something. It's not just noise--it's noise heightened to a crazy level.

    Anyhow, gotta go!

    Monday, August 13, 2007

    What a Weird Day!

    And it's only 10:35 am as I write this!

    I suppose the fact that it's Monday doesn't help.

    Nor does it help that the weather was nice on the weekend but turned crummy. (I am so not used to this 'cold' weather. My house is only 22 degrees and no sun coming in. I'm used to the 24 with sun coming in and the air conditioner trying to not let it get up to 25. It feels like a full 5 degrees difference. I'm in long pants, need to put socks on, have a light sweater over my t-shirt... Brrrr.)

    Nor does it help that dd has been a bit sick and all 4 kids are tired and kind of crabby.

    It started out okay. Ds didn't get up until 7:15 (THAT's a miracle!) and did his t practice in his cursive workbook. I made a positive fuss over his one t and he was all proud and I asked him if he was proud. He said yes. Then I told him that what he was doing was special because kids in school don't usually learn this stuff until grade 3 and he's already started. He liked it even more. haha.

    But, last night I watched a movie with him and I did some K'Nex while we watched. That inspired him and he decided to do some this morning. So after doing his cursive, we got started on the ferris wheel design in his book. Dd got up and joined us. I went and had a shower while the 2 of them finished. I was just finishing getting ready when my niece and nephew showed up at 8:30--my kids still in pj's and not yet fed! Ds and nephew settled on the downstairs sofa to look through books and dd fiddled around with the K'Nex a little more.

    This was my opportunity to set things out to do. I set out the Geomagz and the plant stuff, then started putting things together to make buns. I decided I would put some of the ingredients on the tray since they didn't take up a lot of room. That's when it hit me: we have no yeast. Argh. I tried to find another recipe but nothing seemed appealing. So, I pulled out a large US puzzle map box and bingo and put them on the table, as well as a book on fingerprint drawings and a lettering book we have. Then I pulled out some books and put them on display.

    Well, other than dd who has looked through the fingerprint and lettering books, and ds who looked very briefly at the Geomagz but didn't open them up, the activities have NOT been touched. The boys ended up turning to toys in a toy box we have out and then they and dd went outside for a little bit. They all came back in and headed to the basement, where dd and nephew are now being very noisy, but ds has come upstairs with my niece and is trying to explain to her what to do to play Monopoly Jr. (Naturally, I have been roped into helping so now I'm multi-tasking: blogging AND being Mononpoly Jr. banker and helper.) Now it's almost 11, which means we'll be having lunch soon.

    It just feel like such a weird day. To add to it, I whacked my leg badly on the underside of the desk last night, bruising muscle AND bone just above the knee. (Oh and now my niece is doing her 2yo thing and pouting and saying "C'est pas juste! [It's not fair!]" because she had in her mind that ds had used her Jessie piece. Boy, does she ever need a nap this afternoon!) I can't stay cross-legged long and it's toward the outside of the leg, so easily touched, plus it hurts going in the stairs...

    Weird day.

    Sunday, August 12, 2007

    It's Sunday--Am I Ready?

    I sat down and did a little bit of thinking for things to set up this week. Because of the setup of my house, I can't really have everything out and visible--or noticeable--all the time. For tomorrow, I've come up with the following to set up tomorrow morning:
    • a Geomagz "station"--I'll have the container pulled out of the box and all on a placemat at the table downstairs
    • plant cleaning--requires tray or placemat, Q-Tips, water dish, paper towel or cotton cloth, and plant, of course; at the kitchen table
    • stuff to make buns--on a tray, with bread machine recipe book and necessary measuring cups and spoons, a bowl; at the kitchen table
    • have books displayed in various places--we have a number of books out from the library we've never read because they get forgotten

    After lunch, I might leave the above still available, but I'll pull out our construction materials. I also want to go for a walk with the kids or possibly walk and play at the park tomorrow. I'm not sure what the weather forecast is though. Oooh, just looked. Possibility of rain in the afternoon. Maybe we'll take the dog for a walk in the morning, just before lunch.

    Other things I'd like to do this week:

    • pull out my Cuisenaire rods, possibly having prepared some "puzzle cards" before hand; unfortunately, this is only a very vague idea in my mind at the moment. It has to be wordless so they can figure it out on their own. Or maybe I go ahead and make some with words and help them out. Not sure. They might not even want to do puzzle cards, but I'd like to have them available. The rods often end up being used for building things. :)
    • I'd like to prepare a series of collage activities, but maybe only use one this week: only quadrilateral shapes, only triangles, only circles, a mix of those, etc. (got this idea from The Art of Teaching Art to Children)
    • check my 100- and 1000-chains to see if I have the labels (and if the 1000-chain is even complete!)
    • look in my kids' cookbooks to see if there are some easy recipes they could do
    • make spaghetti for the kids to do art with :) (Thanks, Lisia!)
    • print off some dot-to-dots with numbers or letters (ds LOVES these) and/or mazes
    • stuff to make playdough
    • our large 'corking' hoops and yarn

    On a totally different note, the two oldest's materials should arrive later this week, which means I can really start feeling prepared for their work this September. Also, I've almost got the oldest's CALM course fleshed out (mainly using our school's course--thank you to that teacher because it's nicely done!--but with some tips or additional things I feel she should do) and have FINALLY found a setup for her French course that I am happy with and feel I can plan out appropriately. I'm not sure how many different things I tried until finding what I think will work. So, I have those two courses to work on this week, plus finalizing dd's and ds's ed plans--both my detailed plans and the short versions I provide the school board. That leaves continuing the work on the 2 courses for next week, plus finalizing the 13yo's school plans. Then, the final week, I'll finalize the oldest's plans, my first week plans and I'll be ready to go!

    So little time left! This is only the school stuff I want to get done... Oh, just remembered: I am looking at The Learnables and Power-Glide as Spanish (and possibly even German) materials for us to use this year. While we have free access to Rosetta Stone, it's missing the 'kid feel' that these two other programs have. Yet another thing to decide!

    Friday, August 10, 2007

    August has begun!

    Okay, so I'm a little late on that one. But I was out of town, so there you go.

    August is here. That means the official school year start is soon! Only 3 weeks left to get all of my plans in place. And 3 weeks of having my nephew and niece here before my nephew goes off to gr. 2 and the other two start again.

    My nephew and niece have been with us 2 days so far. Yesterday was pretty good: not too crazy for the most part, activities I had planned I didn't even end up mentioning because they were just enjoying themselves so much.

    Today, however, things got a little crazier. It didn't help that we've had two days of rain and with 2 boys who feed off each other's energy and couldn't really play outside (nephew didn't have proper gear, plus dh had put weed and feed on the lawn yesterday morning before it started raining), they've been cooped up and little room for expending energy. My van is out of commission at the moment which means no going anywhere to expend energy. But now my son is napping and my dd (almost 10) is playing with my nephew (7) and she's the one getting all goofy and crazy. Of course, my nephew is laughing like a mad man at it, so it just encourages her.

    Observing them, though, and analyzing a bit their movement from one activity to another, I can't help escape the feeling that this type of play is an escape from a feeling of boredom, a feeling of not knowing what else to do and not seeing anything worthwhile around them to do. Adrenaline being used at the end of the day is certainly combined with that.

    So I find myself now contemplating how to go about things come Monday morning. The past two days, I've basically spent my mornings on the laptop, with many distractions, working on school stuff--mainly CALM and French planning for the oldest--and in the afternoons, just this and that, then when it really hits the crazy peak between 3 and 4, I'm too tired or just not properly focused to think of ways to engage them in activities that will truly engage them. So, what to do?

    First part of the answer came to me right away: focus on the environment. Always the Montessori answer, isn't it? ;) I need to set up specific trays, placemats, something with different types of activities that will attract their attention. Instead of me trying to think up, "Well, which of the activities I thought of would be good right now?", the activities can be pretty much ready and they can have my involvement whenever they need it.

    Second sort of answer was questioning the idea of perhaps some sort of routine or schedule. But old habits die hard and implementing structure at this time could be difficult, particularly with my nephew since my place has always been his play place. Which brings me back to making sure there are lots of activities outright visible and available for them to do. Sure, some stuff will be on the shelves, but I think to get them going, I need to have things out and noticed. I have a home, here, not a classroom!

    Third part of the answer is to NOT do work stuff, household stuff, anything like that, at least for a set period, like either morning or afternoon; could even just make it the day. Make myself totally available to showing something or helping with something. Then if craziness does hit, I'm not being pulled from something I'm already doing, I'm being "invited" to invite them to something more enticing.

    What kinds of things could I make available that they would be likely to do?
    • My nephew has always loved cleaning the plant.
    • Polishing pots is usually an enjoyed activity.
    • Geogmagz (perhaps finding some designs online they could try to imitate or just a 'centre' for them to play at with them)
    • 100-chain; if my 1000-chain is complete, the boys would be ready for that, too
    • bingo (regular, letter, math, etc.)
    • puzzles
    • colouring/drawing
    • painting (perhaps even had a model to try to imitate)
    • pin map? colour continents of the world? label a map? hm, maybe
    • baking stuff all ready to go (ooh, like making homemade buns)

    Hm, I'm kind of stuck at the moment. That doesn't seem like a lot. I'm actually feeling like I could have a nap, but pizzas are on their way so it's not a good time. I'll have to do some exploring in Montessori books/websites to come up with more. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to add them in the comments!!

    So, other than figuring out how to actually spend my days with my niece and nephew here (ooh, I can't forget about her, either! she's ready for some early Casa activities), I have to:

    • write up short year plans for the 4 school kids to submit to our teacher advisor
    • write up my own year plans, more detailed than the above, for each of the kids; the oldest's are pretty much done, except for her science courses as the 20-level science courses are changing this year and the school doesn't have new courses up yet; her brother's are partially done; not sure about dd or ds
    • finish creating a French course for the oldest (a little more involved than the other course plans)
    • create a French course for her brother

    Shoot, can't remember what else and I apparently have to remove myself from the computer right now. Too many interruptions around here!