New flash cards.

I’m excited to start doing sight words with Nicholas, although I’m not really focusing on sight words so much as I am using the sight words to help him learn phonics better. He can read, when he wants to, but sometimes doesn’t like to work on reading. He’d rather cuddle up with me and have me read than read himself – I can’t blame him. So we are working with some flashcards.

I printed off the sight words in fun colors and laminated them individually. The great thing about the sight words is that they are easy and familiar. Some of the harder ones (because) still need to be learned. So we pull out the flash

Laminating our flashcards for various word games.

Laminating our flashcards for various word games.

cards and play various games. The current favorite is “Teacher.”

Teacher works like this: Nicholas gets to be the teacher. He deals out 6 of the flash cards. He then calls out a word on one of the flash cards and I have to pick it up before he does. Then he gets to deal out another flash card. Every card is a point – and each point is a jelly bean. He loses points – and jelly beans – when he calls out a word that isn’t on the card, or when he chooses a card that’s not the right word. I think he really likes this because he gets to direct the words and be in charge. I’m just playing with him.

We do more traditional things too – I point to a card and he has to tell me what it is. Or I get to be the teacher in the “Teacher” game. He also has to make sentences out of the flash cards. I make sure we spend 15 minutes a day doing work with words. Normally it is with our flash cards because he likes them. But sometimes we read – and I make him read. I have a selection of special books on my Nook that he can read for reading time with me. I haven’t taught him how to use the “read to me” function on my Nook, so he has to read it out loud.

He also has a Tag reader system. He really likes that system because it has games built into the books. Not only does the Tag reader read to him, it has him play games based on the books. We recently got the Solar System set of books to go with the Tag reader. Now he reads those non-stop.

I think the new flashcard system is working out well to help him practice reading. I hope it continues to work too.

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Ocean lessons: Sea turtles.

Here's the aquarium that's pinned to the wall. I imagine we are going to need more blue paper - water - as we study more things.

Here’s the aquarium that’s pinned to the wall. I imagine we are going to need more blue paper – water – as we study more things.

The lesson on sea turtles was not that big of a success. The kids didn’t find them that fascinating and were not into participating in the project, but here’s the lesson anyways:

First, we got onto National Geographic for Kids and looked at their sea turtle page. The kids loved the picture of the green sea turtle, but didn’t like the other turtles as much. Abby said, “Why not green,” about the brown sea turtles. My ever articulate son said, “They look like the color of poop.” Lovely description. But we looked around and learned about them.

I found a sea turtle coloring page by googling, “Sea turtle coloring page.” They colored while I read the facts of the green sea turtle off the Internet. Then we looked at more pictures of the turtles’ shells and I said, “Look, their shells have shapes on them.” We started naming shapes on the shells.

Then I handed the kids cut out sea turtles to draw their own shells on. Abby simply scribbled, Nicholas tried making a shell with shapes. Then we stuck them on our aquarium wall.

Our word practices for the day were: leaf, herbivore, turtle, shell, and shape.

We are in review mode for math because I picked up a 2nd grade math book and we are going to start that next week. So we reviewed addition facts 1-5.

Confessions of a Homeschooler.

I really like the blog Confessions of a Homeschooler. You can find it at: http://www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com.

Reasons why I like it:

1. It’s honest. She has a lot of children and she’s honest about what it takes for her to get through her week.

2. There’s resources aplenty. She has tons of resources. Many are for free – or sometimes they go on sale. Her letter of the week curriculum has a lot of great activities for the younger crowd. I tend to download each activity separately because I can – but she also sells them all on a disk.

http://www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com/preschool-printables

3. There’s more than just lessons. Her blog is about more than just lessons. She talks about how she organizes things, how she manages, recipes that work for her……..building a classroom, activities as a family…..if you can think it, she blogs about it at least once. It’s a really neat blog.

4. She lists what they are doing. I’m not always a fan of her choices, but she makes them available to all – at least the list of what each child is doing. That way, you can always see what she has going on in the classroom.

I really like her blog. Sometimes things are hidden in it- finding the preschool printables can be a pain if you lose the link. But mainly I like it because she strikes a cord with me. She’s a mom farther into her homeschooling journey than I am, but she’s still working and finding things that she likes and doesn’t like.

Mixed media art lessons.

Working on the painting portion of our mixed media art project.

Working on the painting portion of our mixed media art project.

I really am into mixed media art. I saw a mirror I liked at Ross the other day: It was a circle mirror surrounded by a mosaic. I also saw a fabulous painting that used sequined leaves instead of painted leaves. The more and more I look at mixed media, the more I really like it – personally and educationally.

Mixed media art is any art that combines mediums. Some artists use pencils and paint; others use ceramics and glass. Whatever you use, mixed media is awesome.

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Some of the materials we used for mixed media art lessons.

Teaching kids to use mixed media art is a creativity-developing skill. Kids sometimes get stuck in the markers, crayons, and paint art categories. Teaching them to use mixed media helps them reach for the limits of their creativity. It allows them to broaden their minds and see what they can come up with.

My goal with mixed media is two-fold: To help me create unique art for my kids’ rooms and the bathrooms, and to teach my kids that more things can be used in art than you think. I’m not going to have them use bird poop, food, or some of the other stranger medias that sometimes get mixed. But we do use more than one media in our lesson.

Here’s what we used: paint, glue, sequins, tissue paper, and stickers. I think some crayon art got worked into the pictures as well. First, we painted and let them dry (thank you to my hairdryer which does double duty as an art dryer on cold days). Then we took out the glue and put stuff onto the paintings. It was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed doing art like this. It also allowed my kids to make patterns and designs in the paintings that they otherwise can’t do because they are not good enough with a paint brush. Over all, it was a great lesson.

Discipline, homework, and chores….

I’ve been trying to decide what the best way to get my kids to focus on school work is. We’ve tried a million different things – maybe a few more than that actually. But we’ve finally come into a system of rewards/punishments that is working.

Dealing with backtalk

I don’t tolerate backtalk during school. Discussion yes; backtalk no. The minute Nicholas gets snarky, I give him one warning. The second warning results in him being sent to his room until he’s ready to come work nicely. I always warn him the same way, “If you are too tired to do your work nicely, then you need a nap.” Usually our school time works without too many problems. But sometimes he’s spending more time in his room than doing his work. He has actually missed a playdate because he didn’t finish his school work. Which leads me to the second point….

School work comes first

I break our school work into two categories; lessons and practice work. The practice work consists of things like math worksheets, practicing letters, writing letters, dot-to-dots, memory work, and phonics/reading. The lessons are things we learn about that day. Most of the time the lesson also includes various practical aspects (drawing a star, practicing circles, answering questions….). But I still break the day up into these two categories. He never has more than 20 minutes of practice work – if he would sit down and do it. In practice, it takes us about an hour to do the practice work. It’s lucky my kids get up early, because we finish this work before 9 am. Nothing happens until this work is done.

Our lessons are never hard to get the kids involved in. Whether we are doing jellybean math, cooking, art, science, reading and writing our own stories, working on animals and plants….it never takes much to get them interested and participating. I put these lessons throughout the day. Normally after I go to the gym (yes, I make this my time and I need it!).

Rewards

Stickers as rewards.

Stickers as rewards.

My oldest works better with punishments than rewards. He doesn’t care if his worksheet gets a sticker or he gets ice cream at the end of the school day. My youngest works well with rewards. She gets stickers on each worksheet she completes. She gets a bigger sticker when she is done with her school work. She really likes stickers, so this works well for her.

We also have Ice Cream Fridays. On Friday, once everything is done and all the school work is caught up, we have ice cream.  The ice cream gets made by the kids. I’m there to help pour and measure, but they get to choose the flavor and what they want to add to it. I’ve had blueberry chocolate chip ice cream and pineapple banana ice cream. Whatever they want they get to choose. It helps them get through things on Friday and gives them a reward.

Chores

Chores are a part of our homeschooling. My kids – even the youngest – have their chores. We do laundry, bathroom floor washing, and dishes as chores. They also have to put their toys away at night. Chores are often done while we sing various songs; I like the kids to learn songs. We’ve sung “Old MacDonald” to do laundry and “Hokey Pokey” while doing dishes.

One thing I don’t do is use chores as punishment. If the chores don’t get done, they don’t get to go on play dates. That’s the rule. They can’t have people over unless the chore for the day is done. They know what days their chores are supposed to get done – I have charts for them to see.

That’s all

At the moment, that’s all I have. I’m going to say that something different will work for each kid. And at different times different things have worked. On days when nothing seems to work, we simply change the lessons. That means there is something to do on Fridays since Friday is out catch up day.

 

Ocean lessons: Kelp

Today’s lesson is on kelp – also known as seaweed.

I started today’s lesson by reading my kids the following list:

Seaweed, kelp, and algae

 

What is algae?

  • Non-seed bearing plant
  • Found in many types of food products

What is seaweed?

  • Marine algae
  • Grows in ocean
  • Come in three main groups: brown, red and green.

What is kelp?

  • Kelp is any brown seaweed.
  • It grows in large batches called kelp forests.
  • Kelp forests are ecosystems.

I had printed the main words from each subsection on a separate index card. I put post-its on the wall labeled “kelp,” “seaweed,” and “algae.” I read the index card and Nicholas had to decide which post-it it belonged to. This was simply a way of double checking that he was listening to the previous conversation.

We viewed a bunch of kelp forests online. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a great video feed of their kelp forrest. It’s located here: http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/efc/efc_kelp/kelp_cam.aspx.

The parts of kelp. We talked about these as we drew each part.

The parts of kelp. We talked about these as we drew each part.

Then we drew kelp. Drawing kelp is nice. It’s lines and curves. There’s nothing complicated about drawing kelp. I really liked that it was easy to do.

Lastly, we did an activity that compared kelp forests to a natural forest on earth. You can find the activity (it’s activity #2) here.

We added kelp to our ocean folder and we continuing to move onwards with more and more things we will find in the oceans and see at homeschool days in Monterey.

Why I sometimes make short posts.

Thanks to all my fabulous readers! I think there are about 30 of you on a regular basis and I really enjoy hearing from you.

The question of the week was asked: Why do you sometimes write really short posts that include a lot of links?

The answer: To keep the links somewhere I can easily access them by category.

I use the blog partially as a tool to help myself stay organized and on track, and partially to help others and provide resources. I don’t reinvent the wheel. I use other people’s stuff, just organized the way I like it.

Because of that, sometimes my blog posts are all links. Either links to lessons that I have completed, or links to pages I like – themed or not. It’s somewhat of an organization tool for me.

In my next life, when I have lots of spare time, I’m going to create category pages that have lists of all the posts on various topics linked by category and age. That way there’s even more organization. That is how my filing system is done at home, and so I’d like to do that online too.

That’s the answer to why my posts are sometimes short and filled with links.

All things space related.

My son is big into space. We do something space related each week – simply because he likes it. His love of space has branched off into loves of robotics, physics, and math. He is slowly learning that to best understand all of the space stuff – he is going to need the others.

NASA has a great website with tons of resources for your space crazy child. They have lesson plans – which include goals and links to the worksheets – and they have lots of fun stuff.

The NASA page is here.

Their lessons that are focused on robotics can be found here.

Of course the “How Things Work” pages are always a great resource. Their space page can be found here.

For those children who need a bit more of “hands on” activities – there’s a great lesson on the history and role of computers.

And don’t forget, Stanford has a great course on robotics – for free- on iTunesU. You just download it and run it. However, it is a Stanford class so it really isn’t aimed at the K-10 grade levels. They can listen and understand some, but sometimes it gets a bit esoteric.

That’s a bunch of space, robots, and computers links. I hope you all enjoy them.

 

 

Tongue twisters: Moses supposes his toeses are roses.

Moses supposes his toeses are roses!

Moses supposes his toeses are roses!

Today’s lesson was on tongue twisters. My kids memorize things very fast when they repeat them. I decided we would work on tongue twisters because they have great literacy concepts in them. We not only can work on learning fun things to say (because who doesn’t like to sell sea shells by the sea shore), but they also learn rhyme, alliteration, meter, pace, and annunciation.

Our first lesson is: Moses supposes his toeses are roses. Here’s the link to the worksheets we used.

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Short-literacy-lessons-Moses-supposes-his-toeses-are-roses

Once again, the worksheets are free. I would love it if you leave feedback on the worksheets, but they are free to download. I haven’t found a good file sharing program that lets me upload things to the blog to share, so for now we use the website. It is free to join, and there are tons of great ideas on the website for all kinds of lessons.

My kids had no problem reciting the tongue twister. After I read it the first time, we had to read it again and again. It was a lot of fun to watch them learn the tongue twister. We had Abby riding her new pony in the house and trying to say it. Nicholas preferred to jump from tile to tile while reciting it. Then we settled down and did the work sheet.

I handed them red markers and said we needed to circle all the “t” sounds. We used a blue marker for the “r” sounds and a green markers for the “m” sounds. We then had to find rhyming words. Nicholas looked at his piece of paper with the tongue twister printed on it and said, “Nothing looks the same at the end.” So we recited it again, and put circles around words that ended with the same sounds. It was easier for him to do while looking at the paper and saying the words.

My kids made some interesting illustrations to go with the tongue twister. Mostly because they don’t draw very well right now. But they tried. I like to write the stories they tell me about their drawings on the back, and then keep them. But for this project, I’m starting a binder with their drawings. I put the tongue twister and drawing back to back into a sheet protector and then into a binder. I’ll keep the binder as we study various rhymes, poetry, and tongue twisters this year and they can see it at the end 🙂 It will be a great keepsake.

We reviewed out +1, +2, and -1, -2 math  facts. I want to make sure we have these basics down before we move forward.

For the new year.

Happy holiday – all of them – to everyone. I’m certainly happy they came, and I am also happy they are gone. Holidays are a wonderful break in routine, but they are still a break and that can make things difficult for us in the Wunderlich house.
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I don’t make New Year’s resolutions – but I do like to plan. I’m planning out all kinds of things to do this year. I’m working on making my own worksheets (for now) because it is fun and I can gear the activity directly to what I like. I post them all for free on teacherspayteachers.com. I include links to the various lesson units when I have made them. Here’s the link to my store: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/The-Wunderful-Homeschool

My plan for this year is simple – to keep moving forward. It is harder to do than you think it might be. Learning is all about moving forward, and it can be hard to do. Making plans and having them fall through stinks – but it happens. So does the need to change things. Some days we simply don’t work well together (me and the kids) so doing work and moving forward can be difficult. Other days it is extraordinarily easy.

So I have planned Fridays as our new catch up day. It is the day that one of two things will happen – we catch up on the work we missed throughout the week for whatever reason or we will do a lesson that the kids pick out. I have no problem letting them pick the book for the lesson and throwing a few worksheet pages into the lesson. I have a list (in my head) or standard activities we can do with any book, and so lessons can become easy.

I’m going to work harder on my blog too. Posting everyday means that I have done a lesson everyday. This is my own little check. While I hope it benefits others, it is really to benefit myself. Although I do work off requests. I have made more than one lesson plan based on a request from someone.

I hope you all had a happy holidays as well.

Merry Christmas!

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