Sunday, June 14, 2015

Butterflies, Bikes, and Birthdays

Well, I guess you'll get a few more posts out of me after all.

First of all, Maxwell's done with his math book!!! WHoo Hooo!  He did a few lessons in one day, he wanted to be done so much.

By the end of this week, Hyrum should be done with his math book as well. Glory be. That will be the true beginning of summer for me.

I've been doing a new chart system for the boys. It's helping everyone's calm

The boys have sure loved the summer weather. They've been on bug hunts. There's an extraordinary amount of caterpillars around. For Christmas, Hyrum got a butterfly world. I ordered the caterpillars for that, but in the mean time, the boys collected their own.

In no time flat they found about 30 and put them in our butterfly world even though they're going to be moths. There's already about 20 cocoons. So excited to see the moths.

We didn't bring our bikes with us to the coast, so now that we are back, my boys are very happy. Daniel has been learning to ride a two wheeler, and if he had a bit more confidence he would have it down, but little by little he's getting more comfortable.

Also, there were two birthdays in our house. Abraham turned one. My baby...probably my last not so much a baby any more.

And guess what!!! HE WALKED for the first time on his BIRTHDAY!!! How cool is that?

And Hyrum turned eight today, although we are having his party tomorrow. He is getting baptized soon, so the missionaries are teaching him the discussions.

Well, I think perhaps we are closer to summer than ever BUT we will do reading throughout the summer and I hope to read some history, so no real true break, but whatever.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

This one's for the Heathers.

At my alternate school (Homeschoolers in Canada need to go through alternate schools-thankfully mine is awesome,) my principal's name is Heather. I absolutely love her (and I'm not just brown nosing-she's excellent.) And the teacher over me is ALSO Heather. She's a friend of mine whom I have always looked to as a mentor and exemplar.

So yah, totally blessed.

But those Heathers need to have a checklist of information from me about our year. They usually get this at our end of the year in-home visit. That's not happening this year because I'm here, so this is my virtual at-home visit. (They might need something more but I hope not.)

So, First Hyrum:

I've asked that since his birthday is practically in the summer, he be counted as a first grader again.

BUT he actually was able to meet all the GRADE 2 math requirements!!! Glory be! I made a video for math--Hyrum is a crack up, and yes, this is a good representation of how my one-on-one teaching can look like.

Did you like that poop moment? Yah, poop everywhere in the middle of a math lesson....yah. Typical.

Now reading---I was going to make movies, but it created too much anxiety. If this is not sufficient, maybe we can skype.

This is grade one level:
*I'll post our books that we've been reading as a family under Maxwell's reading.
*very good at matching upper and lowercase
*patterns and symbol sound relationship is what Barton book one is all about, and he has graduated from that for sure.
*the sight word he knows the best is "the" but he is recently working on "of, said, from, what....etc" and doing really well.
*Barton has him use phonics to read nonsense words, so yah, new words that are at his level are no problem.
*He can read SHORT stories---his fluency is not the best, but Barton stresses that Accuracy is much more important, and that fluency will come with time if accuracy is stressed-so that's what I've been doing.
*he can know the main idea of what he's read
*not sure how well he knows story parts.
*Print legibly and simple sentences:

*use phonics to write new words:

*share ideas----Hyrum sure loves sharing ideas, but he does have a language processing disorder, so his brain is too fast for his mouth, and you might not always understand everything.

SOCIAL STUDIES (for Hyrum AND Maxwell)

For both of my kids we studied early Canadian history. Including ancient natives, Samuel Champlain, other explorers, Filles de Roi, Seven Years War, The American Revolution including a migration of loyalists to Canada, and we have also been studying a world history in Story of the World.

This is all documented in this blog.

Also we have memorized all the provinces and capitals.

We have also memorized a general timeline of the world from age of exploration to the dominion of Canada:

they really do know this song....bad video.


We studied physics this year, which means we studied Newton's laws, simple machines, motion, light, sound, electricity, and magnetics. A detailed documentation of this is in this blog.


Here's Maxwell's math:

So a couple of things, + to 10,000 you can see with the decimals problem. Also, I forgot to do congruency, so here's a sample of that. Also, You can see that Maxwell recorded the date. I thought he couldn't do this because of his spelling problems, but he proved me wrong.


This checklist makes me a little dizzy. We are still so so behind. We are trying. Maxwell is reading 25 page chapter books with no pictures. It is at his level. He is learning phonics to help him learn new words. He is able to write with metaphors and similes, identify key ideas, make revisions, and have ideas flow IF someone writes it for him. You can see that in his story from early in the year HERE

Cursive writing is a no, keyboarding is a no, He can find things in a dictionary and electronically, but thesaurus is a no.

He's an awesome brainstormer, and very good in groups.

So, yah, whatever.

I do read to them:

There you have it!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Crabs, Magical Islands, and Final Science Classes,

I sorta feel like it's the end of the year in a lot of ways, but it really isn't. You may or may not get more posts.

We are moving in a couple of days back to good ol' Alberta.

But we having been living it up in the mean time.

Josh and Chelsea, our good good friends took us crabbing thanks to Maxwell's insistence. That boy helps me get off my duff and do fun things. It was AMAZING! We ended up catching three crabs, and Dustin even got some video of crabs crawling into our traps under the ocean.

We also went to Tofino. It was MAGICAL! We went to a "forbidden" island that was only open two days of the year.

We went with the Schafers and Salas to this hotel ON the beach. You could get to two different islands depending on the tide, and one was like it was out of a fairy tale with forts made out of natural fallen trees and hidden places of moss covered beauty. I could not get photos to show how magical it was. But here's a magical baby instead.

We also went to "Cathedral Grove" where the oldest trees on the island are.-Hear no evil speak no evil see no evil.

The beaches there are sandy and long, and Maxwell made a shell collection.

And this weekend we went to two fairs, but the one my sister help put on was more fun that the one we paid $50 bucks for.

Holidays made it so I couldn't report about school. Last week we did our last electricity lesson. We learned about open and closed circuits, and played the game where you try and not close the circuit of wire or the light will go off. Always a hit.

And I FINALLY got a battery working!!! I fixed the kit I had.

This week was our last science of the year. It was all about magnets. How can you go wrong? I had bought a couple sets, and we had a very grand time exploring all about magnetism. Although, for some reason, (i think it was that my needles were the cheap kind) I couldn't get my homemade compass to work. I've got them working in the past...hummm.

It was really rewarding. During the lesson Hyrum piped up about how it is magnetic storms coming from the sun that get sucked into the poles of the earth that create the Aurora Borealis.  We studied that last year and he remembered! Sometimes I think Hyrum doesn't pay attention, but apparently some things sink in!

And Maxwell piped up how in order to break magnetism you needed to heat up the iron until it glows red hot or hit it hard with a hammer. We haven't talked about that for FOUR years, yet he remembered our experiments from way back then.

ANd (drum roll please....) Hyrum is DONE with Barton book 2!!!

We went on a little date to celebrate. I'm proud of my little guy (and me!) I would say we are solidly at grade one reading and spelling levels now. We have started book three, and I must say am very grateful for Dianne Craft's suggestions on how to make sight word cards or our life would be very unhappy right now.

As I teach Daniel phonemic awareness, I remember teaching Hyrum, and I then remember how far we've come.

Daniel's doing great. He brought a book to me today and showed me a couple words he could read. BUT his speech needs work. It's hard for him to say his "th"s but all my boys have had that, but he also has trouble with his "r"s "l"s and blend distinction. I think I might put him in speech next year. UUUGHGHGHG I don't want to----RED TAPE NIGHTMARE!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Adventures and Electricity

We had mother's day this week. I love being the mother of this family:

Yep. all those cute boys spoil me...although today I woke up to throw up and poo, but you know.....

We went to Saltspring this week, which is where Maxwell was born. He was born on Mt. Maxwell, but we didn't realize that when we named him Maxwell.

Also, knowing we are leaving in a few weeks has made us realize we need to take advantage of this awesome place. We went to a koi fish farm the other day. Hands on learning. It had a tank that had over $250,000.00 worth of koi in it! Soooo amazing and beautiful.

So, Daniel-I've barely started doing Barton Reading and Spelling with him. Not sure if he's dyslexic, but teaching him as if he was won't hurt him. I have to say, I have some anxiety about teaching reading to my kids because of my previous experiences, so I've delayed. I have taught him the names of the letters and their sounds, but I haven't even reviewed that forever.

I've just been doing math and handwriting. We're done with math, and his handwriting is very good for a kindergartener. He LOVES to change MY handwriting so it looks worse than his, especially the "m"s. I usually write his journal right above where he's suppose to write. Maybe I should do mine in PEN.

Here's a perfect example. See how he changed my "M" so it is sloppy so it can "hold garbage?" Yep. That little stinker.

And for science we started learning about electricity. We had an awesome time with static electricity and seeing what could conduct electricity, but yet AGAIN I couldn't get any home made batteries to work!!! ugg. I'm just need to work at this more. I AM SO FRUSTRATED! I bought old real copper pennies, I bought lots of different kinds of metals, I bought a kit for heaven's sake!! My kit broke (I've only used it once) and nothing else worked. Maybe the LED lights that I JUST BOUGHT are not right. I don't know, but I'm not giving up.

Monday, May 4, 2015


Well, looks like we are only here for one more month. Whimper. Love it here. Love Cardston too though.

For science we learned about rainbows. We got out prisms and lasers and light refracting glasses, and all the kids had a blast. A definite success. I remember 4 years ago. It was a discipline nightmare. Maybe I'm learning...maybe not. But it was a good day.

I will miss the beauty. I took this rainbow a block away from where I live:

And I am finally done with Maxwell's youtube video of Barton Book four helps:

and DANIEL IS DONE WITH MATH!!! for the year. and you know what? He has passed off every FIRST GRADE math requirement!!! WHoo hoo! go us! Kindergarten super boy.

Now to focus more on reading with Daniel. Barton here we come!

Monday, April 27, 2015

School at the Beach and a Pirate Birthday

For science this week we learned about light. When I taught this lesson four years ago, my class got really confused. I was not going to let that happen this time. We talked about how cameras work, because it has everything to do with light.

I had to use a multimedia presentation to help me explain, and I was pretty miffed that I couldn't get my hands on any UV paper to help my explanation. I HAVE UV paper, but it's in my storage in Cardston. Whatever, anyway, its kind of funny that kids find it hard to wrap their minds around cameras with film that needs to be processed. Yes it's a digital age.

We also played with lenses and one of my nephews burned his name into a paper plate with a lens.

This week we've had some beautiful weather, and I knew that if I waited until school was over, we would never get to the beach, so we stuck our school in the stroller, and headed off. The boys had some trouble concentrating, but I think it was a good experience over all, and I think we will be repeating it on sunny days.

Maxwell has saved up money that he's gotten from reading his books and bought an aquarium for the crabs that they are going to rotate capture and release. Little crabs.

Maxwell has decided that he wanted to record his reading. He loves nothing more than to listen to audio books, so he wanted to make his own. He records it and than he listens to it. It's super cute, and he doesn't want me around, because I make too much noise, so I get cleaning or whatever done, and I KNOW he's getting his reading in! Plus plus!!!

Here's a quick sample:

Also, it was Daniel's birthday and we had a pirate party for him. He's SIX!!! Yes, he will be a homeschooler for real next year. (Alberta doesn't count kindergarten as homeschooling.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Shadows and More Guests

I love Cardston. I love that our friends from Cardston are such good friends that they come and visit us. We had more guests this week, although they did not stay at our house. We went to China town again.

For science this week we started to learn about light. Of course, shadows are part of learning about light, so we had a shadow puppet show.

We continued to do our usual math. I had always thought that Rightstart was lacking in drilling, and that they didn't teach doubles. For Maxwell I taught and drilled doubles before Rightstart mentioned them at all.

For Hyrum I hadn't got around to it. Then, last week, Rightstart had Hyrum adding doubles, and he could do it! Without any memorization and without any drilling, he could see an abacus in his head, and that was enough.

Not only that, but he can do doubles when it's part of a two digit number!!!

See that 67+7? or the 66+6? yep Hyrum does it like this- (67=60+5+2) + (7=5+2) = 60+10+4=74. Not sure if you got that, but Hyrum TOTALLY gets that. He's very comfortable with it in fact, and I'm delighted.

Maxwell is missing our guests but before they left he made his own uno cards out of cardstock and duct tape, and he's been begging every member of the family to play with him ever since.

And yes, we are still doing less school than we usually do, but you know what? I HAVE FIVE BOYS!!! I have been more happy and at ease with life for the past few days than in a long time.

I spent some of that extra time making movies to help my kids. I am very proud of my first ever animated movie!

When I do "one on one" with my boys, really it's one-on-three. Check it out:

That's how I look 90% of the time. Abraham on top of our work (I NEVER leave him unattended- don't worry.) And William on my lap, playing with all the manipulatives. Yep.

But hey, they're cute. Especially my feather-haired sweetie.