Monday, September 7, 2015

The New School Year- 3rd and 2nd grade


We started school in late August and Max has already finished the first Math Analogies Book
from The Critical Thinking Co. which means I'll be ordering the second one this week. He's also on page 110 of Mathematical Reasoning Level B
which means we should be ready for Level C by November. Last year I had my doubts that this would be a full math curriculum, but now I realize how wrong I was. After talking to a Critical Thinking Company representative, I decided to start Max on the Grade 1 level and let him work at his own pace. I'm really pleased with the amount he's learning and by how much he loves the curriculum. After breakfast, it's always the first subject he wants to do.

As for Bess, she has already read more than half of the Bookshark books. I could have made her stay on schedule, but that seemed pointless. We're taking science and math at a little slower pace. I've had to rewrite the schedule a little since she sped ahead, but it's pretty easy to tweak Bookshark. One thing we have changed is we've given up Bookshark language arts. Bess is still reading the books, but her hatred(and my own) of the way the LA is designed made tossing it an easy decision. For right now, we're using Editor in Chief from Critical Thinking Company
and Sequential Spelling 1,
and we may order Language Smarts.

So far we've had a really relaxed year. BookShark minus language arts is working well for us, and Max and I are having a lot of fun with math. I'm listening more to both Bess and Max about what is working and what isn't.. I feel giving the kids more input has made everything run more smoothly.

Until Next Time!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Our New House and the Beginning of Book Shark 2

It's been a long while since I posted, but with good reason. We've moved! We're so excited and happy. My mom generously loaned us her house for almost five years while my husband got his degree and we are so grateful, but having a home of our own is such an amazing feeling. We don't own it. It's a rental, but hopefully one day we'll be able to buy it. So that's where I've been. Surrounded by boxes, unpacking, and making this space our home.



Sometime during the chaos, we started our new BookShark year. We bought Bess the whole 2nd grade package with the advanced readers, Horizons 3 Math, Sequential Spelling 1, and Critical Thinking Company's Editor in Chief Beginning 1.
Bess will really be in 3rd grade, but the suggested ages for the Bookshark package are 7-9. I always like to stay to the middle or older range. Bess gets so much more out of it that way and feels less pressure.

I bought Handwriting Without Tears just for practice. Her writing is improving quite a bit and we might move to a cursive book mid-year. Editor In Chief was her choice. Bess enjoyed that part of Language Smarts.

For Max we purchased Critical Thinking Company's Mathematical Reasoning Level B and Math Analogies Beginning. We're also starting Reading Eggs soon as we seem to have hit a wall in his reading. I'm not pushing any other subjects for him right now. He listens in on Bess' science and we read tons out loud from the library. As you can tell, we don't use Bookshark for Max but he does sit in on some of the read-alouds.

I love BookShark even more this year. We've gotten more comfortable with the schedule. I love that my prep time is usually less than 10 minutes, and I'm amazed how much Bess is retaining.

BookShark customer service is amazing. They are courteous and helpful. I mistakenly thought I was missing a book from our package, but it turned out to be one which wasn't supposed to be in Grade 2. However, the company had a few left and sent it to us anyway for free. So now I have another reason to love BookShark, as if I needed one!

I'm excited to have time again to blog a little. I plan to post more frequently.

I hope you had a wonderful, relaxing summer. I wish you a great new school year!

Until Next Time!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Our BookShark Box is Ordered!

No two children could be more excited about curriculum coming in the mail than my two are right now. We had a great BookShark year last year and are looking forward to the next. So as we await our Box Day, this is what we're up to:

The snow has finally melted, but it's still really wet and muddy out. So as we're mostly housebound, we're reading, drawing, and finishing this year's math.

Bess is reading Peppermints in the Parlor and Ms Leaky is Freaky.

Max is building car ramps and continually improving them.

Rose's favorite book used to be Mr. Brown can Moo! Can you?(We all have it memorized now. I once woke to myself reciting it in my sleep!) But now she's been having us read the We Help Daddy book over and over.

I'm reading : Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado.
I'm watching the K-dramas Blood and re-watching Pinocchio(so good!)

I haven't been feeling great lately, quite a lot of pain around my middle. It's called the "ms hug". Ethan has been doing literally all of the housework. So to give him a bit of a break from cooking dinner every night, I've been ordering Panera online and having my husband pick it up on his way home from work. Bess, who is soup-crazy, now asks when the soup is getting here and then guiltily adds,"and Daddy!"

That's all for now. Hopefully my next post will be about our Box Day!
Until Next Time!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Horizons Math

I thought today would be a good day to do my review of Horizons Math. Why now? Bess, who has been math resistant ever since our days with Saxon Math, turned to me today and admitted she is beginning to enjoy math. She even voluntarily did two extra pages. I tried not to faint!
So, besides turning Bess into a math-enjoyer, here is why I like Horizons.(As I've stated before, I never get paid for my reviews.)


Everything is clearly laid out for the parent in the teacher's manual with activities to teach the concepts and a list or what manipulatives are helpful for teaching the lesson. I have to admit I rarely use their suggestions for teaching the lesson. Bess is an intuitive learner, and a little explanation from me is usually all she needs. Max needs a little more help, but I find that I know best how to explain concepts to him without overwhelming him. But it's good to know I have a way to explain it if I ever need it.

Example from Grade 2
The back of the teacher's manual has reproducible supplemental worksheets and we use all of them. I find them really helpful for reinforcing concepts. I will, however, buy the worksheet packet next time, because I get tired of copying the pages. All of the answers for the lessons and extra worksheets are in the teacher's manual.
Example from Grade 2

Each year has two consumable workbooks  with 80 lessons in each. Except for grade k every tenth lesson also has a test. This is a spiral curriculum which we find works best for us.
After having used Saxon and Calvert Math, I find this too be a fairly advanced curriculum. However, it doesn't feel that way. It's colorful with many fun puzzles, and paced in a way that new concepts are paired with already mastered skills.
I've been on the fence about whether this was the program for Max, but just recently he's been asking for extra math pages. So I'm going to stick with it. I always go through a grass-is-greener period concerning math, and I really think I need to just chill and trust this program.
For those who care, this is not a secular program. However, other than being published by a Christian  company, one can hardly tell.
You can purchase the program through BookShark. But I'm not crazy about their manipulative package. I recommend buying the one from Rainbow Resource.
If you need a more in-depth review of the program, I recommend Cathy Duffy's review. She lists Horizons as one of her 102 Top Picks.

Until Next Time!


Friday, January 30, 2015

January

January flew by mostly because lots of changes happened for us. My husband began his new job. My son officially became a manager at the pizza place he works for. Bess had her 8th birthday. And I have been busy applying for a house for us all to live in. We have to have a 4 bedroom, since the law requires it for 7 people, and we need a place which will accept a dog and cat. And it must be affordable. It's a tall order! But I think I've found one. It's in a worse neighborhood than we live in now, but the house itself is beautiful.It's also close to our favorite library and two museums. So fingers crossed!
We've pretty much finished our school year except for math. I fully intend to write a review of the curriculum we used, but right now most of my free time is spent packing.
We're wrapping up BookShark 1. Our last read aloud is Detectives in Togas.
Bess is reading Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman. She received this for Christmas and loves it.
She's also rereading the Oz books. She never tires of these.
Max has hardly noticed that most of his toys are packed for the move. He's been playing with his Magformers  he got for Christmas. They really are fun toys. Even the adults have fun building with them.
Bess, Max, and I have been watching A Place At The Table on Netflix.
It's an excellent documentary about food insecurity in this country. If only everyone would watch it. Bess immediately said we need to give food to a local food pantry, she was so touched by the stories. But she also understood that the problem must be solved by the government. We had some long discussions about our broken system. I told her the story of how I used to get free lunches in elementary school and how it was the most filling meal I would get all day. I'm still very grateful for the politicians who cared enough to fund that program. I want my children to grow up with empathy for those who are having a hard time putting food on the table and to understand that it could happen to anyone.


So that's what we've been up to.

Until Next Time!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry, Merry Christmas!



Well, I'm back and I'm really happy that I am. After a week of steroid infusions my symptoms are improved, although not quite back to normal, but much, much better! I'm walking on my own. I had to use a walker for two weeks. My reading and writing are back to normal. I actually went a few days where I was suddenly dyslexic. During this time everything I said was slurred. I also went a day where I couldn't remember my children's names. That was my lowest point. I have always been a pretty upbeat person, but I experienced horrible depression during that time. This was my worst flare up and one of my weirdest. I lost all sense of taste, balance, feeling on one side of my face, and I had double, blurred vision.  My taste isn't completely back and I still have blurred vision, but those are easy to live with. I feel like myself again!
Instead of Thanksgiving dinner at our house, which would have been too much even with the family helping, we spent the day at the Unitarian Universalist Church we attend. It was lovely. Ethan made two awesome pumpkin pies to take and our favorite mashed potatoes . With my husband and Peter working, Ethan became my caregiver during my flare. He did all the cleaning, dishes, laundry, cooking, and childcare. I'm so grateful for him. I don't know how we would have coped without him. He found out he really likes to cook, and says he might some day take some cooking classes. He, like Max, has aspergers. He experiences extreme anxiety when he's in crowds so that makes college classes impossible at this point. Hearing him say he might consider cooking classes is a big step.
We celebrated Chalica at the beginning of December. It really just entailed a lot of discussions about UU principles with Bess. I'm thinking about ways we can create a more fleshed out experience for next year.
My husband was hired by AT&T a couple of weeks ago in tech support. After trying unsuccessfully for months to get a job in his field, hospital administration, we're over the moon he has a job. He starts in January.
All in all, life is good. MS bites, but we're coping. As Bess' book from BookShark says It Could Always Be Worse.

Until Next Time and the Happiest of Holidays to All of You!

(And Thank you to Jessica McCarthy for taking the time to leave me a kind comment on my last blog post. It came at a particularly low point and was much appreciated!)


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Taking a Blogging Break

I wanted to thank all of you who have read my little blog. I've really enjoyed this. It's fun talking about homeschooling to someone even if they're anonymous. It saves my poor husband from my blathering. He's wonderfully responsive even when I know he couldn't give a rat's behind about curriculum.
 "Should I teach Latin this year?"
 "Sure sounds good."
 "Should I buy our books piecemeal or support the curriculum company?"
 "What do you think?"
 "Should I teach them leprechauns exist and the world was created five years ago?"
 "Yep.I support you."  
And he does support me. He's kind and loving, just not a curriculum junkie like I am. And I'm beyond happy I have my "curriculum-makes-my-eyes-glaze-over-husband". I've really had to rely on him for everything these last two months. My MS went into overdrive and I am having a whole lot of symptoms .Hopefully my new medication will resolve some of them.
So now we get to why I'm having a blogging break. I can barely type right now. I'm usually a pretty good typist(one of the few useful things I learned from public school),but recently I have been having trouble typing. I have to one-finger type and my hands are really clumsy.  I end up accidentally spelling everything wrong . It takes forever. These two paragraphs have taken 40 minutes. I know my family would help me, but I write better on my own.
So I hope to be back soon. I'll still be reading homeschool blogs, just not writing my own for a while.
I really hope you all enjoy your holidays! I wish you all well. Thank you for reading!
Until Next Time!