Sunday, April 29, 2012

What we are up to this week....

Well we will continue to be in Nashville/Franklin, TN until Friday.  We have 3 days of schoolwork this week.  So this is what we will be accomplishing.

Joey and Brayden will continue to work on Multiplication Tables.  Joey will work in his Reading workbook and Brayden on Reading Eggs.  Joey will also be working on his Photography project of the week.  Joey will also be working on his Spanish.  For Grammar, Joey will continue working on inferences and Brayden will start the same study

Lydia will continue to work on Coin Recognition in Math.  She will work on Reading Eggs and her reading workbook.  She will also be doing some grammar work in her Language Lessons book.

Caty will continue her Umi Zoomi math and Explore the Code.  She will start the letter K.  And will do a little bit of graphing this week also.  Just the basics of learning what graphing is.  She will also work on a following directions workbook.

For group we will be working on our Oceans project to get it finished before the end of the week hopefully.  We will also be learning about the Jamestown Colony, John Smith and Pocohontas.

This week's activities include a trip to the Nashville Zoo tomorrow morning.  And then a rest in the afternoon.  Then later in the afternoon, we will go as a family to Carnton Plantation (  Tuesday we may go to the Discovery Center in Murfreesboro, I keep hearing wonderful things about it.  Wednesday we are going to visit Dyer Observatory in Brentwood.  Thursday is pretty open right now.  Probably just packing and chilling out all day.  And then we will be off to the beach!!!

For meals we will be having,

Fried Green tomatoes with pasta w/ a tomato and basil topping
Sloppy joes
Mandarin Chicken with Rice
Chicken Dumplings

Lots of picnics with leftovers and/or cold meat sandwiches.

**All subject to change depending on moods and what is happening that

Everyone have a wonderful week!!!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Our weekly triumph and accomplishments

Well we are in Tennessee this week and next.  And we still are chugging away, since the school year is almost over.  We still have work that I would like us to accomplish.

So this is what we have done this week.....

Lydia and Joey have started a Spectrum Reading Comprehension Little Critter Book for their levels.  Lydia is working in Grade 1 and was so proud of herself when she realized that she could read the little story almost completely by herself!!!

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Joey is working on the 2nd grade of this book, because even though he excels in reading skills.  Basic comprehension skills still lack.  So this is a big help to him.

Joey finished his Teaching Textbooks level before we left, so he is practicing basic math facts including finally memorizing his multiplication tables  I brought this Montessori board for him to use to have a very visual tool for learning the facts.

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We are working our way through the Oceans Habitats lapbook from Hands of a Child.

Ocean Habitats Curriculum

We also are reading lots and lots of books both fiction and non-fiction on oceans.  We watched Disney Oceans and the DK Oceans movie also.

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This project will be our family project for our upcoming Homeschool Expo.  Since we are going to the ocean next Friday, I thought that would be the perfect ending for that unit.  We are hoping to get some pretty cool shells for our project display.

Both Joey and Lydia are working the Focus on Photography Project book from 4H.  We don't actually belong to any clubs, but I thought the books were pretty cool.  So I ordered them and we are working our way through Book 1 right now.  I was able to get a nice digital camera for the kids pretty cheap from a local online sale group that they are using.  It's not top of the line, but they are not using my new camera!!!!!!!

Caty is working on the Letter M this week with Explore the Code.  Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler has a great Letter of the Week program that we bought and I use those printables along with her Explore the Code.

Caty is also really picking up on her math.  We bought her the Team Umi Zoomi Math sets a few months ago, and now out of the's clicking.  She is loving math and we are flying through the books.  So she may be starting MUS Primer possibly in the fall.

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Last week Lydia started a new Grammar book.  Since she is really starting to take off in phonics and reading, I thought it was time to get started.  I found this book at a second hand store for only $5.00!!!  I was soooo excited!!!

She is getting the idea of common and proper nouns already and has memorized her first poem.

Joey is also working on Inferences and how to read what a story is really saying.  We are using Inference Jones,  It's a great book!!!

Postcards....postcards...postcards....the kids are working on postcards.  I am showing them how to address and write short messages.  Unfortunately everything is in my handwriting because the kids is illegible and they write huge!!!  So not very postcard  The kids are pretty excited though about sending them.

But we did bring their handwriting folders and they are practicing daily.  We are using Getty Dubay series that was recommended by a friend.  So far all three of the older kids are doing great using this.  Caty is working on writing slowly, so she is working a lot more slowly on the worksheets.

Brayden is continuing Reading Eggs and has started practicing his math facts.  I have been slowly encouraging him a little here and there.  He's finally doing more work.  We have been having such problems with him lately.  He is reading books, as long as they are on his iPad.  And he finally will do science again.  Before he would just sit around and stare at the walls and would not respond.  So we must be making some progress somewhere

In History, we learned about Sir Walter Raleigh and the Lost Colony.  Since we will be in the Outer Banks in another week, and we were already studying Explorers of America it worked out perfectly to emphasize him a bit more since we will be visiting the Lost Colony on Roanoke Island and Fort Raleigh National Park. Joey and Lydia have almost finished the worksheets from their online history lesson.  They can deliver them to the rangers and received a badge that they completed the unit study on the Lost Colony.

This was a great video about Walter Raleigh.  The kids really liked it, and I thought it explained a lot to them.  We also learned a bit about the Spanish Explorers since they were brought up in the English Explorers video so much.

We actually had a very good week.  We were able to accomplish a ton!!!  And had lots and lots of playtime and exploring time.

That has pretty much been our week.  One more week in Tennessee and then we'll be heading to North Carolina for our family vacation in the Outer Banks.  Whoohoo!!!

Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Homeschool Mothers Journal - Week 47

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week....

Wow, we are getting closer and closer to the end of the school year for us.  We are currently in the Nashville TN area for the hubby's job.  He works while we just kind of hang out all day.  It a nice break from daily life at home.  Although, it's not all peaches and cream.  The same meltdowns and mood swings happen, just now I have to try and keep them quiet in a hotel.  So we visit the park ALOT!!!  This time we packed all 4 kids scooters, since they fold up fairly flat.  The kids have loved this new addition to their choices.  I have even taken them for a walk around the parking lot of the hotel and let them ride in the back corner of the parking lot during the day when it's not busy with cars.

We are actually here for 2 weeks and then we will be heading straight to the Outer Banks for our family vacation.  So 3 weeks away from home.  We are missing alot.  We missed American Girl Club today, and our LEGO club on Monday.  We missed a field trip to the Art Museum also.  The kids really love coming to this area though and I do too.  We are also missing our Bowl-a-thon and even all of our sports.  I relax, but it's still work for me.  

Next week, we will then head to the Outer Banks in North Carolina.  Sooooo excited for our upcoming trip there!!  We even was able to add a bunch about the Lost Colony to our History study (we were already studying some explorers of the New World)...we just added Sir Walter Raleigh and some information about the Lost Colony from the Fort Raleigh State Park Website.  Got to love the flexibility of homeschooling and also got to love the different conclusions that Joey has come to about what actually happened to the settlers in that colony.

In our homeschool this week.....

Well just because we aren't home, doesn't mean there's not  I had pre-planned about 6 weeks of lesson plans.  So we are following them.  I had all library books, movies we needed, worksheets, and printables that we needed packed and ready to go.  That was a massively heavy suitcase.  The kids have gotten their work done every day this week.  We are a bit behind in our ocean study.  But will catch up a bit tomorrow.  

There was some griping.....but they know if the work doesn't get done, no extra treat of a cool new park or other neat field trip.  This has gotten us through the  Do I call it a threat or a bribe???

Lydia is working on her reading and started a new comprehension book from Spectrum.  She was shocked today that she was able to read the story almost totally by herself.  It was cute.  In Math, she is working on coin recognition and counting sums of money.  For some reason, an area she has struggled with.  We are going to work on a rag doll next week for her Kiersten project and might even make a yarn doll.  She even has her first poem memorized from her Language Lessons grammar book.  

Joey is working on a reading comprehension book also from Spectrum.  And is working on an inference book with me.  He is also working on his multiplication facts.  An area of struggle.  I just keep quizzing him and adding a new set of factors each day.  Brayden is doing his Reading Eggs and reading.  He is practicing math facts also.

Caty is working on her Explore the Code Book A.  We are doing M this week.  She has had an off week, but is trying and picking and choosing what items she wants to do.  

I'm cooking....

Well I am cooking.  We have a kitchenette in our suite.  The kids have not eaten out since Saturday while we were traveling.  We eat all meals in the room or I pack a picnic if we are out and about during lunch time.  We have had normal meals all week, including giant meatballs with rice noodles and green beans.  We had chicken and gravy, tacos, coney pretty normal stuff.  

I'm reading....

I was terribly disappointed in the Lady Almina book I have been waiting to read.  I thought it would have more story and all it was so far is facts and info about how much was spent at parties.  So I have put it down right now.

I am starting to read..

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My sister-in-law read this book and said it was wonderful.  I normally steer clear of reading about stories of autism, since in our situation it's more depressing than educational.  But this one has caught my eye also.

Some photos of the week....

Doing school work in the hotel.

 Working on his photography project.
 Our supply box

Linking up with other Homeschool Moms at The Homeschool Chick.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What does that really mean??? Help with Inferences.

Definition of INFERENCE
: the act or process of inferring (see infer): asa : the act of passing from one proposition, statement, or judgment considered as true to another whose truth is believed to follow from that of the formerb : the act of passing from statistical sample data to generalizations (as of the value of population parameters) usually with calculated degrees of certainty
: something that is inferredespecially : a conclusion or opinion that is formed because of known facts or evidence
: the premises and conclusion of a process of inferring

Both of our sons are diagnosed at various areas on the autism spectrum.  They are concrete thinkers.  If it is not black and white...well as Joey puts it, "I Don't Get It!!!"  So how do you teach a concrete thinker how to draw a conclusion without always having concrete evidence.  I cannot just answer his questions all the time by just saying, "I just know...that's how."  Understanding inferences is actually part of speech therapy programs, especially for children with autism.  And this is an issue that Joey has been struggling with lately.

I was very excited to get the opportunity to preview this new product from The Critical Thinking Company.


From their site:

We all make inferences in our daily lives (e.g. we naturally think a child is happy because we see them laughing). But how does this ability apply to written communication? When we read a written passage, we’re actually reading a representation of the author’s thoughts and ideas, because the written word does not convey a meaning in and of itself. Readers must construct the meaning through interpretation.

Inference Jones provides short, fun, and easy-to-use activities that improve critical reading and higher order thinking by developing the student’s ability to draw inferences from written text. Research shows inferential reasoning is a prerequisite component to superior reading comprehension. The National Foundation for Educational Research concluded that "the ability to draw inferences predetermines reading skills: that is, poor inferential reasoning causes poor comprehension and not vice versa."

This product was amazingly simple to work with.  After a brief discussion with Joey, using the above dictionary excerpt about inferences, we dug into our book.

Each "lesson" is short and too the point.  The questions draw out the student and really teach the kids to read between the lines.  And not everything is black and white.  Sometimes you just have to assume that something is that way, without it being actually stated.

These little stories have led to some extra discussions with Joey as he is thinking about whether or not something is Probably true or Probably false.  I don't let him off the hook easy, and neither does the lesson.  You need to describe why you feel that about the statement made.  Reasons need to be listed.  These in turn has helped quite a bit with our reading comprehension delay, because he needs to really listen and look for the details that will help him to explain why he came to that conclusion.

I have nothing but good things to say about this book.  I am so grateful to have been chosen to use this book with our children.  I am using it with both special needs and typical children.  They are benefiting.  

Each lesson is roughly 10-15 minutes in length, depending on the amount of further discussion that you have with your children.  I cannot tell you how grateful I am that such a large benefit is crammed into such a small amount of time.

Would I recommend this book?  Without a doubt....YES!!!  In fact, this is a book that will be go through right now, but I will go through with them again in maybe 6-8 months so that they can no longer remember the small details, but still benefit from developing those critical thinking skills.

It is recommended for grades 5-6, but can be used for remedial students in high school.  I am reading the stories though to my younger kids, and they are just verbally giving me their opinions and conclusions that they are coming to from listening.  So really if you are going for a multi-age item, you could easily work this in with little ones around also (Our younger one are PK and 1st grade.)

Are you interested in purchasing this for your family?  Check out Critical Thinking Company today.  This item will be available for purchase in June of 2012 for only $11.99.  It contains 48 pages of reproducible lessons, and includes an answer guide to help out a bit.  This is the Level 1 in this Series.  It is written by Robert E. Owen, M.A.

Check out what other Crew Mates thought of The Critical Thinking Company products for their families.


*****Disclaimer......I received Inference Jones free of charge for the sole purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The views I have expressed are my own and are real experiences with my family. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255>:"Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Do you know where your garbage goes???

Do you know where your garbage goes?  For Earth Day we visited our local land fill.  We have the added benefit that our land fill also houses 4 Wind Turbines, which the county can take us on a tour of also!  

They stand 395 feet tall from base to the very tip of the blade when it's pointing up.
 They have an enormous shadow.

 Looking up the ladder that technicians use to climb to the Nexcell.
 The computer, and it was a windy day, so the turbines were producing electricity.

 They were dizzying to look up at.
 Then we went on a tour of the Landfill right next to the turbines.  We are driving up a hill that is roughly 40 years of compacted garbage.  They keep a removable fence around the drive to catch fly away trash.

 This was the smell as we emerged from our vehicles...yuck!
 You can see the trash compactor that drives over the garbage the whole time the landfill is open.  He drives back and forth continuously flattening the garbage.

 Do you notice the wind turbine blades in the background...that was where we were.  Does that tell you how high we truly are!

 The tires on the compactor tears open some of the garbage bags and trash does blow around up there in the higher winds.  And it was windy that day.  We watched a drop off while we were there.  It was sad how much cardboard we saw being thrown out.  The amount of recycling we saw being thrown into the trash was sad.  People truly do not realize how much they are hurting the planet.
 The tires on the compactor.
 Lydia and her cousin finished the tour by hiding where they couldn't smell the trash.

It was an eye opener.  We also read:

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And some more favorites for this time of year:

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This was a good field trip to really show kids the amount of garbage that is really out there.  And an eye opener for parents too!!