Monday, April 13, 2015

Science of sound, and Guests

I am committed to writing in this blog every week again. So here it goes.

Science. I've started my science class again. We are studying sound. My first week was a bit crazy. It was at my house, and no one was watching the babies, and Dustin was on a business call, and we had an excited new group of kids, and well....we didn't get through all the material I wanted to teach.

I'm pretty sure that everyone came away knowing that sound was vibrations though, and that was a start.

The next week went a lot more smoothly. We went to my sister in laws. We continued to learn about sound waves including how sound waves move through air, water, and solids. I think the most impressive experiment was when you take a metal hanger and put string to the ends and put the string around your fingers and stick your fingers in your ears and then knock the hanger. It sounds like a church bell.

My teenage nephew, Dailin, helped us make "oobleck" that we made move with sound. It's so fun that he has a natural love for science and is our guest helper.

And last week was our concluding sound lesson. As part of that, we made our own symphony. Before we made our own instruments, we studied real instruments.

We made our symphony out of cups of rice for maracas, straws for pan flutes, straws for woodwinds, and boxes with rubber bands for the strings instruments. It was quite the loud not-so-harmonious group.

As for history..ummm...well, let me tell you a story. A stressed out homeschool mom was talking to her husband. She was saying how she didn't want to be overwhelmed. He asked her what was one thing that she could not do so she wouldn't be overwhelmed. She said history, but than said how much she loved history and all the projects.

He than said "Honestly, listening to 'Story of the World' a couple of times is going to be just as effective or more effective than all those crafts." The housewife was both annoyed at him and felt relived by him.

SO! We have been listening to "Story of the World." :)  I'm not saying we won't be doing the odd craft here and there and researching with library books. I'm not saying I won't ever be in full force again. But I have two babies, and a bit of post partum crazy brain, and stress about teaching reading, and well---I need a break.

We are still learning the history timeline song for the portion of time that we are supposed to be studying this year. That counts for something, Right?

And of course we natural do crafts.

Maxwell continues with his obsession over dragons, and has improved his drawings:

And we made easter eggs covered in marbled nail polish.

Now on to a math update.

Hyrum is doing great. I was so happy the other day when he got a rather complex concept right rather quickly. I Talked to Dustin and said "Yes he had trouble with the English name of numbers, but that doesn't mean he doesn't understand concepts. Look how he gasped the concept of the number nine borrowing one unit from the ones place. This make the ones go down and the tens go up." And Dustin said "This is what I'm talking about. You need to focus on these things. You need to record the successes. Remember this." Well-this is me remembering this.

I especially like the 38+9 answer where he even added the arrows, which proves he understands the concept. And I took this a week ago. Now he's doing problems like 39+8 and understands that you use the same logic. LOVE IT!

Maxwell is doing great too. Have I ever told you how much he loves the game "corners?" It's a game that we played to learn how to add and subtract 5s, 10s, and 15s and also what numbers make up 5, 10, and 15. This is a really easy concept, and Maxwell doesn't really need the review, but he begs to play it every now and then as a treat.

Now Hyrum is learning these concepts, and we all play.

Daniel is learning how to tell time. Hyrum is too in fact. I feel that in order for Hyrum to memorize where the 15 minute, the 30 minute and the 45 minutes are, I need to make him a movie. Daniel's not to that point yet. He's just learning the hours and half hours.

Really though, this week has been basically our spring break. We've had guests staying with us. Guests with 6 kids who have never been to the island before. We've been busy having fun. Math was still accomplished. Maxwell reading his books has been done....most days, but other than than, it's been all hands on adventuring.

I feel like I need to brag just a little so that if any of my friends read this, that they will realize how awesome it would be to visit us too, and COME AND VISIT!!!

So the first place we went to was Fisherman's Wharf where we looked at the quaint house boats and fed the wild otters and SEALS (Dustin and I had a bet to see who was right-I thought they were sea lions, he thought they were seals and the looser had to lick a raw fish--I licked the fish)

Then we went to China Town and ate duck and bought YUMMY candy.

Then we explored the inner harbour.

The following days we went to an AWESOME beach and went beach combing.

And went to a waterfall

We also went to a gorgeous park with gardens, ponds, and petting zoos.

And then we went on hikes by a river with stunning views of nature in it's grand beauty.

Yah, and that's just a piece of what is available here. Paradise people. PARADISE. Come on, you know you miss us.

Having our guests here, I've taken a break from Barton reading. We needed it. BTW I've looked into what's available here in Victoria. There are a couple tutors. Guess which program they use?  Yep. Barton.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Bad bad dyslexic day

It was a bad bad day. Actually it was a bad bad day yesterday that spilled onto today.

I know it's been a long time since I last posted, but I've faithfully been doing school. In fact I wrote a post once, but as I went to publish it, it disappeared. I have lots to post, but this will not be the usual post. This will be me wallowing in self depreciation. So skip this one if you wish.

Maxwell and Hyrum have dyslexia. I haven't really posted too much about this because I've wanted to be able to talk about dyslexia once we were a success story. The kind I read that are all sparkly and bright. "My child couldn't read anything, but we did such and such, and now he's reading so much I have to take books away from him so he will go play!!" "My child was two grades below grade level, but now he corrects his peer's spelling!"

I want SO BAD to be a success story. But I'm not. At least I'm not yet.

I'm still going through the sludge. Dreaming of the day that I will see Maxwell with a chapter book that he picked up on his own account. Devouring it because he loves it. Then I take a photo. I post it on this blog, and I say how wonderful it is that he's reading. How all those countless hours are worth it. And how now I know Hyrum will be okay too. All I have to do is persevere and he will have his own photo too.

But that hasn't happened yet. Instead it's just me crying over my laptop. I'm pretty sure you don't want a photo of that.

Maxwell can't read.

Hyrum can't read.

Maxwell is ten. TEN and can't read. Hyrum will be eight in a few months. EIGHT and he can't read.

Daniel is 5 and if he has dyslexia, it's very mild.

But William; At 2 years old I can already see the signs as clear as anything. He will be just as dyslexic as his two oldest brothers.

I have a lot of self doubts.

If I had sent them to public school, they would have been saturated in the learning-to-read world where professionals were constantly hammering things in their head. Then they would come home for the night and we would have done homework one-on-one.

Was that what I should have done?

Now it's too late. They are so behind that public school would devour them.

Why did it take me so long to start taking things seriously with Maxwell? If I had done Barton sooner would it have helped?

Many told me to wait (mostly of the Thomas Jefferson Education mindset) and said that Maxwell would be ready later, and then it would be EASY. So am I not being patient enough? Should I wait? Have I been forcing it down his throat so much that he's spewing it out?

Lots of the people that told me to wait now have 12 and 13 year olds that still can't read. I looked at this and say "See? Waiting didn't work." to make myself feel better, but not waiting seems like it's not working either. So really, I'm just judging others so I can falsely elevate myself.

I've tutored other kids, but not long enough to make any kind of difference at all.

I'm tutoring a new kid. He's 12. I want so bad for it to be a success so I can know I'm a sufficient tutor.

Then I can say "See, HE got it. My kids will too, it will just take time and patience."

The Barton system says that level four should take 3-5 months. It's been seven months and I do not see the end in sight. EVERYDAY. everyday we are diligent.

I feel like I must be doing it all wrong.

Or maybe the system is all wrong-despite EVERYONE and their dog saying how it's the best tutoring system out there for dyslexics.

And you know what? I don't have the official stamp of dyslexia on anything. No professional has told me  that my kids have dyslexia. For all know they might say "No, your kids are pretty normal, but you suck as a teacher."

I want someone to tell me what is going on, but no one is there.

No one seems to be able to help me.

I'm all alone.

I asked for them to be "coded" but a year ago a lady came and said "yep, Maxwell is reading below grade level." That's it.

So it was me that read all the books, watched all the documentaries, put myself through the tutor training, and surfed the internet until my eyes crossed. Now I say they have dyslexia, but I have no official right to do so.

I went to the elementary school and the principle pretty much told me there's nothing they can do.

There are no tutors in Cardston, and I'm sure there's something here in Victoria, but we'll only be here a couple more months.

Yesterday I saw how pointless it was to go further in Maxwell's level four book. He wasn't getting it. I sat there. Knowing I had ploughed through. Telling myself he was succeeding, but now it was beyond pretending. I needed to go back. Reteach things that were embedded wrong. Knowing that to un-teach something is harder than teaching it. Knowing I was already taking twice as many months as I should to get through the book.

Where should we go back? To the beginning of the book.

I cried.

Can I do this? Do I even have a choice?

Then I taught Hyrum. I've been teaching him the level two book. All. Year. Long. It should take about one or two months to finish the level two book. I thought it was time for me to give him the post test. He failed. He didn't fail miserably, but the same concepts we've been working on again and again are the same ones that he got wrong. The same concepts we work on EVERY SINGLE STINKING DAY were the ones he got wrong.

Let me explain where my kids are having trouble.

Maxwell can't tell when a vowels says its long or short sound. We haven't even tried silent "e"s or vowel combinations yet. I'm talking about when it's an open syllable like "pro" it's long and if it's closed like "prom" it's short.

I can not glue this concept to his brain. He can spell it. In fact, his spelling seems to be better than his reading. He understands the idea of the concept. I can ask him all the rules as this idea gets used in more complex scenarios, and he can give me all the right answers. He knows how it works. He just can not execute it.

I watch him as he tries to read a word like romantic. Ro-man-tic. long vowel, short vowel, short vowel. He knows it. If I ask him to tell me if the vowel is long or short he gets frustrated because he KNOWS. But then when he reads "romantic" on the page without help, I see the concentration in his brow, his cheeks almost twitching as his mouth silently goes through different ways this word might be pronounced. The uncertainty. The frustration. And finally he slowly says "Raw-man-tic."

He sees my face. He knows he did it wrong. He quickly says "romantic."

We were on lesson ten where we were learning the "banana rule." Now we were learning how long "a"s are often "uh." It was just too much. The same letter could be "Ay" "ah" and "uh?" He intellectually knew WHEN it said each, but to put it into practice? Nope.

Then Hyrum. "b"s and "d"s. The "e" says eh and the "I" says ih. Everyday we go over this. I've decided to make a little movie to try to help him. I have to learn how to make that movie and I'll post it here for your enjoyment. Hyrum seems to learn with movies.

I just had a thought! Hyrum also learns through hand symbols. Right now we are learning the history timeline song, and Hyrum is actually memorizing it. We are learning hand symbols to help memorize it, and I think that's why Hyrum is having his success.

Dustin says I'm "asking myself the wrong questions." I SHOULD be asking myself "what worked today?" "What was a good thing that happened." "What are my past success stories?" "How have they progressed?"

But I'm just not perky and need to wallow.....okay let me answer the right questions.

Maxwell read his primary talk on Sunday. I reworded it in order to make it words he knows how to read.

He knows all his sight words-largely because of the sight word cards I have made.

Maxwell is reading a 25 page chapter book without pictures every single day. (I'm bribing him of course.) These chapter books are specially made to be exactly at his reading level, but who cares, right? He hardly has any help from me, because he can DO IT!

It's hard to hide my fears and doubts, but his self-esteem seems be in tact still. We have been reading "The Dyslexic Advantage" together and he knows that although his brain makes it so reading and spelling is difficult, he has every possibility of really succeeding in life. That the same brain functions that make it so reading is hard for him, are the same brain functions that will give him an edge in the work place.

He LOVES books. He is constantly listening to audio books and asking to be read to.

He is really excelling at every other subject. I went on the Westwind alternate school's fourth grade checklist for math. It says he needs to know how to find the area--he knows how to find the volume. It says he needs to multiply a two digit number with a one digit number---He can multiply a 3 or 4 digit number by a two digit number. Basically, he's already ahead of his grade, and the year's not over yet.

And Hyrum- I can see his progress in math so clearly (because I was so worried about particular things that are hardly any problem now.) He really is going to succeed because his brain works so differently.

Take today. He was adding something and the answer was 101. He wrote 100 1 and than said "oh yah, the 1 is hiding the 0" and wrote 101 but didn't really put any spaces, and said "look! 101 is the green lantern symbol!" I don't know if anyone out there appreciates this, but it seemed like it was right out of the "Dyslexic Advantage" book. The spacial comprehension of the place values. The interconnection of relationships between numeric symbols and superhero symbols.

The world needs people who see things differently.

I really want to get my certification in dyslexic tutoring as well as being a certified screener of dyslexia. I want something that says "She's not messing her kids up. She's doing it right."

Silly of me hu?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Just the Bare Minimum

Well, it's been about a month since my last post and I've been doing school. The basic read, write, math school.  But we've made plenty of time for field trips. In fact, every day we try to have an "adventure" of some sort.

It's educational to go to muddy hot springs, right?

We were in Victoria. Dustin felt that to be there is an inspiration, but it sure isn't stress free. We were trying to find a rental. At first we didn't know how long we even wanted the rental. We finally bit the bullet and rented out our house in Cardston. That made us very committed. Then we really had to find a place. Haha. Good luck. Renting anything in Victoria is a miracle. Eventually, we found our miracle, but it was a miracle that was not available for a couple of weeks at least.

Great. Ugh. We are a big family. A big loud messy crazy family. We had exhausted our stay among Victoria family. What now? MOMMY! :)

Yep, we went home to my mom and dad in Utah. My mom said "Oh, it is so wonderful to have you. Before you came our house was quiet and dead, but now it is full of life and love. I love these little kids."

What a blessing. I love my mom and dad so much. Their love for my family is like a warm cozy blanket that just envelopes all of us. Blessed blessed. yep yep.

My life is made easier by being here.  This is what I've needed. If you couldn't tell, I've been a bit messed up these last few months. I've needed simplicity. Here I can get that better than other places.

Really, all we've done for school is one-on-one time. For the past couple of months we have been doing one-on-one on my bed. I thought it would create better feelings and be comfy, but it just made us sleepy and lazy, so goodbye bed-school.

So, math:

Daniel has mastered what two numbers make ten. One fun way Rightstart has us do this is by playing "Go To The Dump" aka "Go fish." Instead of having a match with finding the same number, you have a match when two cards add up to ten. Daniel Loves this.

and it works:

With Hyrum, slowly but surely he's learning the real names of numbers. We are continuing with where we left off (ie counting by fives, learning time, learning place value etc.)

And Maxwell is learning long multiplication and how to find the area of things. We are having to redo his multiplication timed tests because, even though he has mastered the concepts behind multiplication better than ever, he's gotten slow.

And just because I haven't instigated any crafts, doesn't mean that crafts have stopped. They made such things as clay snakes:


Hyrum dragon books

And Maxwell Dragon books, and dragon books, and dragon books.

My homeschool creative juices haven't totally stopped flowing either. Check out my newest sight-word drawing. Want to know how to spell "month?" well, "The month of January is FROZEN!"

I must say I'm quite proud of this one. ;)

Who knows, maybe I'll get around to history crafts this week. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I've Been Robbed!.....Oh wait. Just Kidding

We left Frozen Alberta in exchange for the rainforest mist of the NorthWest Coast. Lucky? Oh yeah. We love living in Cardston because we can leave when we want to. It's one of the best perks of homeschooling and having a husband that works for himself.

What's not fun is putting all of your homeschool stuff in a backpack and have it stolen on your journey. Yes, you would have to call lots of people to make sure it was stolen and then start ordering the same homeschool supplies again and start feeling vandalized that someone went through your stuff. Yes. That is what we went through.....until we realized that the "stolen" bag was in our floor compartment of our van, just waiting for us.

I feel sheepish.

However, a tragedy did happen.....I forgot my camera back home.  Whimper whimper. We don't know how long we'll be gone, and I don't have my gorgeous Nikon. We have device cameras, but it just isn't the same.

Dustin has been having fun with our device cameras though. Check out the movie he made of one of our days here:

I feel that I need to talk about what we accomplished before we left, and have an half-way-through-the-year review.

I have found that history activities have fallen on the back of my priority list. But we DID accomplish a few. My boys continued to have tea parties in honour of Boston:

And we ran around the house with "hobby horse" brooms while blowing trumpets in honour of yankee doodle and Paul Revere. Last time I did this we used kazoos. I would suggest doing that again. Those toy trumpets do bad things for adult's calm.

And I had planned on doing George Washington wigs again. After all, last time they were so cute:

But even before we started history for the day, Maxwell, who is the most interested in crafts, said "No no no! I don't want to do wigs! I want to make a craft of George Washington crossing the Delaware. Here, I could make him on his horse, and We could use this black paper because he did it at night, and here's some cotton balls for the ice chunks in the river, and here's this and this....."

I was quite impressed that he had soaked in so many details and just let him do his thing:

Also, I would like to announce, that we have read all of the ORIGINAL "Common Sense." I'm quite proud of this fact.

And, we have memorized all the Canadian provinces, territories and their capitals.

I doubt we will be doing very many crafts for history while we are on the coast. There's more hands-on fun that we will be doing.

Not sure if any science will happen out here either. We'll see.

And now, for our half-way-through-the-year Review!!!

He is slowly but surely learning to read. We are going at half the speed that I thought we would go, but he is PROGRESSING!!! He does not love the process, but I love the life line that Barton has given us. We are now halfway through Book 4.

Yesterday, when I thought all our Barton tiles were stolen, I bought the Barton ipad app.

This had added a new spark in Maxwell's interest, and today's reading went smoother than usual.

His math is going swimmingly as ever. I think he needs a bit more challenge added actually.

He is learning to read!  He is very confident with three letter words. Truthfully though, he still needs to sound out every. single. word.  AHHHH! He has done Barton book 2 a couple of times, but I want to make sure his "e" and "i" vowel sounds are very secure and that his digraph sounds (sh, ch, ck, th, and wh) are also secure before I move onto book 3.

The Barton tile app is actually a deterrent for Hyrum unfortunately. He just wants to play instead of doing the task at hand when the ipad gets in his hands.

Math- Hyrum and math. Well, I'm very grateful he is getting one-on-one attention. Math has always been hard for him. When he was 4 he couldn't count to four. When he was 6 he couldn't recognise the value of numbers, and I found a way through this difficulty that I recorded in this post. 

Now, he's having a hard time learning the traditional names of the numbers. You see, with Right start, they have you say "two-ten five" instead of "twenty five" or "one-ten two" instead of twelve. This is great for math comprehension, and has been good for Hyrum's concept of what numbers are all about. But now, they are asking him to change over to the real words. This has been hard for him in his language-processing-disorder mind.

I've been having him watch these two cute videos done by the "singing walrus."

But even still, he's had trouble. I quickly knew what to do because of past experience with this little boy, and whipped up these two flash cards.

This has helped quite a bit.

You know what? I do not think Daniel has dyslexia. I also do not think he has a language processing disorder or ADHD. In other words; He's my easy kid.

Do you know how hard it is to teach children with learning disabilities? It's so hard I want to cry (and sometimes do.) I think "maybe I should just send them to school because I just can't do this anymore." but then I realize how behind they are or how many difficulties they are having and then I think "yah, public school would be so cruel to them." I'm seriously thinking I need to hire tutors. I just need some of this responsibility off my shoulders. I'm sinking in over my head.

But not with let's talk about him.

He's done with Handwriting Without tears and has started journaling.

He's doing Rightstart math level A, and is doing just awesome. Totally gets everything.

Well, I think that's it. Doubt if I'll be blogging as much while I'm out here on the coast, but know that I'm constantly homeschooling even here.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Tea and Heat

Wow, I totally sounded down in the dumps in the last two posts. I've been feeling a little behind life, but I'm not THAT bad. I will try to be more up beat.

So for science we learned about heat.  I tried to talk about a lot of different aspects of heat because this is our only lesson on heat this year. But I think the main thing they took away from it was conduction and insulation.

We burnt a chip and talked about calories as a form of heat as one of our experiments.

This will be our last class of the year. I told everyone I couldn't host another week until after the holidays because we were going to have another family living with us. That family (the Heather McKay family) has now elected to stay somewhere else for the holidays, but I'm not going to teach another science anyway. Simplicity.

But I do love my class. Here's a picture of my group:

And we FINALLY had a tea party in honour of the Boston tea party.  (for some reason it feels wrong to spell the Canadian way when talking about the Revolution. Haha )

We used eggnog instead of tea---it was more convenient and I said "we are patriots who are boycotting tea!" That works, right?

So we finally started reading "Last of the Mohicans." It's so weird. I've been so used to reading Canadian history this year, about how the Hurons are the heroes. The Hurons are our friends. They Helped Canada survive, and in this book (which takes the English side) the Hurons are the enemies. The Hurons are to be feared. Perspective  hummm.

So for the past semester, Maxwell and Hyrum have been taking an art class. I think they have really enjoyed it. They've done a lot of different kinds of mediums and styles. This week was their art show. Here's a picture from the show. Maxwell's is the one of the dragon.

And we had our alternate school Christmas party. I LOVE OUR HOMESCHOOL GROUP!!! I feel so blessed to be part of this organization. The people who are our facilitators really love us, and we love them. Heather Burton had us all play "minute to win it" games, and Hyrum and I won the ribbon wrapping game.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Plugging Along

Not much to show for this week. I didn't do history, although we've read some books, including most of the Felicity series.

We learned about ramps and pulleys for science. It was a bit of a loud queotic science, but I think they learned a bit. Here's daniel with our pulley. I need to get a bait and tackle pulley system for next  time around.

We did do reading writing and arithmetic. Maxwell and I have started working out before his time. He and I need to get into shape a bit.

And yep, that's all to report. Maybe it's because I have a baby that won't let me sleep, but I feel 10 steps behind life lately. I'm tired.

We did go to Christmas in Cardston which I helped a bit with. It's fun to see the trees I put lights on. We bought one of the auctioned trees. I was sold on the missionary tree when I saw this drawing done by a sister missionary:

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Give Me Liberty...Kids

We studied Benjamin Franklin and Patrick Henry for history this week. but I was really Lame and didn't do any activities. Instead, we started watching this series:

I definitely recommend it. It's a cartoon that feels a lot like the Living Scriptures, but it's about the revolution instead. It's really good because it covers all sides of the issue. The girl is a loyalist, and the boy is a patriot, and the other boy is french, and another main character is a freed black slave. It's also VERY detailed. It takes 40 episodes to go from the Boston Tea Party to George Washington's inauguration. Obviously we haven't watched them all yet.

Also, there are a tons of famous actors as the voices. Billy Crystal (John Adams,) Arnold Schwarzenegger (Baron von Steuben,) Liam Neeson (John Paul Jones,) Sylvester Stallone (Paul Revere), and Michael Douglas (Patrick Henry) are just a few of them. 

For science I was lame and cancelled it because we had to go Lethbridge, and I hadn't prepared anyway, and well, I was lame.

But the day before I wasn't quite as lame, and I volunteered at the awareness fair that the town does every year. Well, actually a bit lame because while I was preparing for it, I bagged individual school with the boys. But they didn't care and had fun at the fair.

This week was also american Thanksgiving, and although we had thoroughly done Thanksgiving this year already, we did it again on a smaller scale with the Peavoys. This is them lining up for pie. I love all these boys.

Where's Mo? oh well.

Not sure if it has anything to do with school, but we also did gingerbread decorating. Or shall we say Rice Crispy decorating. Dustin's INGENIOUS idea of creating a house mold for rice-crispy-treats made this very easy and fun. Although it took up all our rice crispies and marshmallows ;(  

Naomi is hoping that this does have to do with school because there is a gingerbread contest at the Christmas in Cardston tomorrow, and she wants to enter it in the school category.  Ha ha, we'll see.  I guess we are our own school.

Well I think that's it. And be prepared for another lame week because I have a baby who has the sniffles and won't let me sleep.

And as for something REALY nephew is seriously ill in Africa. Aaron Leavitt (who was homeschooled) was on his LDS mission in the Congos, but to be treated for TB has been moved to Johannesburg and can't travel any further because he's too ill. His parents are now with him and he is having surgery tomorrow. Please pray for him!  I know I am.