Sunday, February 7, 2016

Homeschool Switch Up

I'm not sure if you could tell, but for the past year and a half, when I've had a baby, a toddler, and been trying to teach three different aged children, homeschool has not had the joy that it once had.

Sometimes I've felt like "This is hard and stressful, but I have no choice." I was doing doing doing and not accomplishing half of what I wanted to, which made me feel constantly like I was hurried, behind, and incomplete.

I've never really felt like public school was an option. My kids' scholastic and emotional issues would not be fixed there. The more I research dyslexia, the more I dread public school teaching a dyslexic child.

And I never felt like "unschooling" or anything like unto it was an option. I didn't feel like if I just stopped teaching them everything would become roses and I would feel good about everything.

I also didn't feel like computerized curriculum was the answer. I truly love Rightstart math for my kids, and feel like they need the interaction with me. Also, Barton IS working slowly but surely, which is something that can't be said for the online reading programs I've tried.

But I knew it wasn't working. I was constantly burnt out.

Dustin was leaving for Africa, and we decided that I should spend the time he's gone with my mom. I needed her help.

When I got here, my mom remarked how she could tell that I was stressed, and I just bawled.

I went on a date with Dustin after that, and my mind was reeling, trying to figure out some sort of answer.

What if I taught Daniel and Hyrum together? It actually sounded more stressful than teaching them alone, but then more time would be freed up. What if I taught them twice as many lessons and didn't teach Maxwell until the next day and doubled his lessons too. And then I came up with the real answer:

One child a day who does two lessons.

BINGO! Maxwell on Monday, Hyrum on Tuesday, Daniel on Wednesday, Maxwell on Thursday, Hyrum on Friday, Daniel on Saturday.

We still do devotionals and individual book reading everyday, and it would mean each child got four lessons a week instead of five, but honestly....they usually got only four anyway. And it would mean I was doing schools on Saturday, but Daniel's lessons are the shortest anyway.

So, for a week and a half we have been doing school this way, and the result?


Of course, most of the time my mom has been taking ALL the other children OUT of the house while I am teaching that one child.....but even on the days when she hasn't been able to do this, the stress levels are not as high as they were before.

Before this change, most of the time wasted was in between children. Also, it was draining to have to convince each child that school was a good thing. Each child every day. Also, making sure we had everything for the lessons and getting into the mode. Each child every day.

SO are two lessons too hard for my kiddos? Two Rightstart lessons and an hour of Barton?


Hyrum was quite worried the first day when he heard my idea. We were doing math and I said "just do these problems, and you're done with math!" and he started being very dramatic saying "Yah, but then I have to do ANOTHER math and it will take as long as this and that's not fair and..." "Hyrum, you've already done two maths." "Hu?....oh!"

I even did three lesson with him the other day because his book has so many lessons to get through, and he handled it beautifully.

I'm a little concerned that there won't be as much repetition, but I'm willing to take the chances.

And I know it won't be as easy without my mom. I am seriously considering putting William in preschool next year, and kindergarten after that (not seriously considering full day first grade though) He is bored, and needs to get out of the house or he will destroy it.

But what about when I need to teach FOUR boys, you ask (or at least I have asked myself.) Well, by that time, Maxwell will be done with Rightstart and will be done with Barton.

Rightstart really suggests you use Videotext math after you're done with their program. Videotext is a computer/video type math, where I would not have to teach him, videos would. And since he would hypothetically be done with Barton, I would not have to worry about whether or not he could read all the instructions.

And since he would be done with Barton, he could start being self directed in online courses. With Coursera, or Williamsburg, or maybe even BYUI online.

Of course, this is just my theories, but perhaps, Maxwell could be fairly self directed, and so I can take him out of the rotation, and add William in.

So, after all that explanation, this has been my experience:

I wake up late (because I've been facebook messaging Dustin after midnight.) and I still get in devotionals and individual reading, Then mom leaves with the other kids, and I do that one child's school and it's not more stressful than before, and then mom's still not back yet, so that child and I decide what we want to study together.

Daniel decided to do photoshop one day:


Then we still have time and energy to do history!

And I still have time for my life!

And I'm SANE again!


So now on to a normal report of the past couple of weeks:

We left our beloved Cardston for who knows how long. We will miss our Westwind classes. This is of last semester class:

And before we left, we had Maxwell's birthday. I was trying to get ready for our trip, and I was totally stressed out with school, and then I give in and do an elaborate birthday party with TWENTY kids....not happening again.

It was a Minecraft party. It was pretty awesome if I do say so myself, but I left too much to the last second, and so I was totally stressed out for awhile.

See how William got to the cake before I could take a photo? the stinker.

And then we were off. On the road, I made more sight cards. I had made one on the computer, and it is my boys' all time favourite:

They informed me that Steve never actually raises his hand like that....whatever.

When we got here, there was more snow than Cardston!!! So much for avoiding the winter. Last year, Utah was warm and snow free this time of year.  Oh well

Before Dustin left, we went to the Provo City Centre Temple open house, which I think was some of the best education they have gotten all year long.

By the way, I took this photo of something Daniel wrote out of the blue. I thought it was so precious:

"families stay together forever" I hope when his pronunciation improves, his spelling will too!

Dustin sadly left, but we've been keeping busy. We went to the Curiosity museum, which is totally AWESOME!!! We spent two hours there, but we didn't see it all.

Check out our movie:

We went with my sister's family who had never been there either. So fun.

My mom's been taking the kids to the library and my Dad's been taking Maxwell fishing.

We're spoiled.

We also went to the circus. Pretty spectacular.

And we went to two plays that were playing here in Salem. Annie Get your Gun and Alice in Wonderland.

We have also actually done history!!!

We've studied ancient Greece. The olympics, philosophers, and the myths are what we've mainly focused on.

We made olympic medals out of ceramic casts of Greek horoscope characters as one of our activities:

And we went back to the Curiosity museum and went through their maze as an activity because we had read the Minotaur and the Labyrinth story.

Maxwell was super excited because he found out about their rock exchange program and can't wait till Papa comes back from Africa with awesome rocks that he can trade with.

Speaking of Dustin, I'm so in awe of who he is and what he's doing I feel so blessed to have the Van Duyses in our lives and for Dustin to be having all these experiences. Although, he went swimming in by a waterfall...that could have had crocodiles, snakes, and/or bacteria in it. NOT a Happy wife about that.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Half way through the Year and new hope

It was Christmas!!!

Well, Christmas break is now over. I LOVED having a break. I decided that I wasn't going to worry about teaching my kids AT ALL and instead focus on fixing up the house.

I painted, caulked, built, and cleaned, but I did NOT get out any school or craft supplies.

Well, that's not entirely true, we had a kid Christmas party, and I had to get a little crafty for that:

It was kinda hard to get back to the grind. In fact, this week went a little slow, but I will forgive myself ;)

We did do science. I thought I was going to get through way more material than I actually did. We learned about water. Its molecular composition, the water cycle, and all that fun stuff.

For some reason I thought we would be able to do this water filter device experiment that I had, but we ended up doing it just with my kids after everyone had gone home. It was way more peaceful that way. This is Hyrum pointing at the DIRTY water in the cup that we poured into our water cleaning tower to his right.

For some reason I thought we could also get to experiments on chemical reactions. Why? I have no idea. But I got the Mentos and Coke experiment ready and even though it had absolutely nothing to do with water, we did it as our finalee.

Way more impressive than our other attempts eh?  I finally used REAL diet coke, and made sure it was nice and warm. That was the key.

This week we did do a little math. Hyrum's techniques are pretty fun for his multiplication. To do his 5s times tables, he times by ten and divides it in half. Sometimes he has actions to go along with this:

Of course, throughout the break we were experiencing quality literature. Maxwell got Where the Red Fern Grows on audiobook for Christmas, and he has listened to it like three times now. He would be listening to an audio book at all times if we would let him. (We have a family rule that you can't wear headphones, and so hearing his books ALL THE TIME gets taxing.)

These are some of the new ones he's been listening to, although he likes to go to his old ones too. Specifically "Farmer Boy." That seems to be his favourite.

None of these were abridge, and the Huckleberry Finn one I got from this awesome site where you can download free audio books. They are read by volunteers, so you get some good ones, some bad ones, and some weird ones. Librivox.

And now for the "New Hope" portion of this post.

Hyrum has been "officially" diagnosed with ADHD, ODD, and language Processing disorder. The speech pathologist has been sweet and kind, but not that helpful. The psychiatrist just directed us to others and I'm still on the waiting list for an educational psychological analysis. So basically, I've been feeling like I'm just spinning my wheels.

But I was directed to Conrad Boehme, the school district's main child psychologist, by many people this last semester, and I don't know why I didn't get on that earlier. In fact, he's in my ward and was Hyrum's sunday school teacher for two years! His sister-in-law is a friend, of mine, and I see him all the time! WHY did I wait!?! In the end HE tracked down ME!!!

Hallelujah that he did. He was actually thinking I wanted to talk about Maxwell's dyslexia, but I then told him about Hyrum. It was an amazing visit. The kind of visit that makes me so happy to live in my tiny town.

One thing that came to a clarity is that Hyrum's ADHD and ODD are actually mostly the byproduct of the Language Processing disorder. Mostly, but not completely, but it means that focusing on helping the Language Processing, and there is actually HELP!

It's called Visualizing and Verbalizing by Lindamood Bell. It looks SO promising!!!! It seems like it was made just for Hyrum! I have so much hope, but it's expensive and I need to figure out a couple of things, but we are going in the right direction, and not going in the circles that I feel like we have been.

Well, another week has passed. This week was still a bit slow, but I have a scripture for that:

This needs to be my mantra. I do all things that lay in my power (with a little facebook break in the midst here and there) but I certainly don't always do it cheerfully, and I most definitely DON'T stand still and trust.

I need to be partners with Christ in teaching my kids. I have forgotten that. Church today was just for me.

It's the middle of the year, and I am more or less where I should be with math, and if I'm not going to get through the whole book by May 31, well, we'll for sure get through it before June 30, so I'm just going to chill about it.

And if we don't get all our reading in, well, we do it throughout the summer, so there. Be still.

And science while we're traveling? forget it.

History? I want to, but if not, I'll plug in "Story of the World" and my kids will survive.


Sorry....I just need to tell myself that.....a lot.

So this week was our last science for a while...snowbirds that we are. It was all about Chemical reactions. How light, heat, condensing, catalysts and such effect reactions. We also talked about exo and endothermic reactions.

One favourite thing was the exothermic reacting pens:

The kids created art that could be erased and brought back by heat and cold

Soooo fun. We also had fun using concentrated hydrogen peroxide to do some pretty cool experiments. Remember how lame that genie in a bottle experiment was for history? We did that again, and it was lame again, so I put it to the side, and then about 5 minutes later it WORKED! Surprise!

And we also tried the Elephant toothpaste experiment again, and It worked as well!

And one more tid bit. I have DREAMED of the day when Maxwell would pick up a novel of his own volition and start to read and I would take a photo, and post it on here, and it would be a glorious day. Who knew that "Novel" would be the Book of Mormon:

Yep! Dustin got our family an ultra deluxe Book of Mormon family edition. That coupled with his primary's encouragement has got him reading on his own!  Love that boy.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Art, China, and Lego Angels

I tried to catch up a bit in history by actually doing it this week! But I have to say, this Monday was the pits! Dustin was incredibly sick, I was super-duper busy, and I was super-duper grumpy and I even made a meme for how horrible it was:

Well we did do some fun stuff. I wonder if my kids will remember their crazy mom, or if they will remember just the fun of lighting floating lanterns and going to the live nativity?

We did floating lanterns in honour of ancient China. And this little movie is a good example of my day: magical stuff and crying:

We also made paper. it was so beautiful. I love paper with pedals!

For science we learned about Carbon Dioxide. Only the Barrys came and not all of the experiments worked, but it was low key and chill----and I needed that. We talked about how foods have carbon dioxide in it, including root beer...we drank it all!

We also went to the boy's art show. It was quite cute. Their teacher, Mr. Scott's wife is my friend and just had brain surgery, so I wasn't sure if they would even have the show, but he pulled it off amazingly.

And we found an extra Christmas tree that the McKays left here, and my boys decorated it with lego ornaments that they made. This is an angel. Love it.

And even with all that, I went to FOUR parties. Tuesday and Wednesday my sister-in-laws had little get togethers (which Dustin pushed me out of the house to go to so I would get out of my grumpiness) and then Friday my friend Rachel had a party and then Saturday my neighbor had one for my whole family...but Dustin didn't go to one! as soon as he was feeling tolerably better from his strep throat nastiness, he threw his back out moving furniture for a service activity. Poor guy.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Tis the Season-for running around like a chicken with it's head choped off

I've felt really busy lately. Too busy for everything I want to do. But hey I accomplished things, so that's something....right?

Two weeks ago, it was crazy. I didn't even get the nuts and bolts of homeschool done. I did, however, make almost 200 little tubs of slime:

It was for our Cardston Community Awareness day that I help with each year. It was all gone by the end of the day! Maxwell counted how much slime we had by finding the volume with multiplication...oh yah.

They have a contest where you have to make a poster if you are in an upper grade. I taught Maxwell a bit of photoshop, which he picked up super duper fast, and he made this poster all by himself:

"Seasons change but bugs remain" had to be the theme of the poster and it was by the health department.

I thought he was quite good! We don't know yet who won.

Then, the NEXT DAY was Christmas in Cardston that I help out with. I had made a tree for them which sold at the tree action:

I realized that day that hardly anyone had sent in any gingerbread houses, so I quickly got my family on the job of making some...too bad I didn't have my sister Danette here who makes very elaborate gingerbread amazingness!

Yah, uh, I didn't help and they were truly kid-created.

Maxwell insisted on doing a rice crispy one like last year, but this time he wanted it to be Santa's sleigh. You can't tell how cute it was from this photo, but it was pretty cute.

See the reindeer?

That week I was also making new sight word flashcards. I know they don't look like much, but they're quite hard for me to come up with. Here's a few

Every YEAR you have a birthday. The YOUNG kids like toys. BEFORE Christmas you decorate your house, and WASH the dishes.

Also, my kids have been going to Westwind classes still. I'm not sure if this has helped or hindered my business, but I think it was good for my boys regardless. They had a watercolour class and made scenes reminiscent of Van Gogh.

That week's science was awesome. Awesome because I feel like the kids really grasped the things I was trying to teach, which was molecules, physical vs chemical change, and mixtures vs compounds.

One of the things that I believe made it so understandable was this book:

It so perfectly tells how and why molecules are made in a way every child can understand. So cute. Highly recommend.

We made molecules out of CANDY! Why not?

Notice his glasses? Yep, every class from now on!

It was a very yummy sweet, but stinking science class.  We ate cake (chemical change) and trail mix (physical change/mixture.) And hard boiled eggs (chemical change.)

The stink came from mixing sulfur and iron together which you could seperate with a magnet, and then burning them together to make the compound iron sulphate. Burnt sulfur is stinky just so you know.

I'll have you know that I purchased an electric piano at the beginning of the school year. Mostly because of all these brain studies that say how great music is, I knew I couldn't NOT have it be part of our school, but I didn't know if it would be hard to get it all hooked up and synced up with my I put it off....for over three months...uuuhhh.

Anyway, regardless of my business that week, I got it all figured out, and the boys have been BEGGING to practice the piano!

We use Piano Marvel. I thought it would be a computer program where I wouldn't have to do a thing, but it turns out, I actually have to teach them a bit here and there, but I still love it.

Hyrum (my electronics junky) really took off with it. He practiced for more than two hours in two days!  Check out this video:

You like Abraham crying in the middle? Yah, that's my life. If I don't push through and do things even with a crying baby in my arms, things don't get done in my house.

 But Abraham likes to get into the action as well:

So stinken CUTE!

Also, we had to decorate our house. Thank Goodness Maxwell is so stinkin excited about things like that. He really helps me a lot these days.

This week slowed down a bit, although I had to get some photos done for a friend and make my mom's secret pal gift and other things.

This week's science we learned about oxygen. I gave them balloons towards the beginning of class, which was a bad idea and they started going crazy, and I had to finally say "If you don't put those balloons in the bedroom and come back without them, I am going to pop them!" and their eyes got big, and we continued on...without balloons.

 I really don't know how to discipline. I don't know how to discipline my own kids properly, nevermind handling a whole handful of kids. Oh well, I keep trying.

Anyway, one of the experiments we did was the egg-in-the bottle trick because it shows how oxygen takes up room, and once it's gone, there's pressure where it was. I did it because I had messed up so bad at it two years ago, and I had just read in a Steve Spangler book how if you put birthday candles in the egg, it is way easier.  I was excited to try that, but guess DIDN"T WORK!

The candles did nothing but get wax on the bottom of my beautiful bottle. The candles go out as soon as they go upside-down.  I read it awhile ago-maybe I missed something.

But anyway, while I was trying (and failing) a boy just stuck some burning paper down into the bottle, and that did the trick.

And I've been feeling really guilty that I've been so bad with history, so this saturday we finally got around to doing some. We talked about ancient Persia and India, read some "Just So" stories, along with some other treasures (the one called "Gilgamesh the King" I want for my collection of books.)

We marbled shirts as our activity. This took all day to prepare because you have to soak and dry clothes and get the marble bath ready. By bedtime we were actually ready to do it. I let the boys watch a movie and I took each boy separately to do his shirt. That was a genius move on my part. I think I might do that again.

The dyes were old (I had bought them four years ago when we did ancient history then but never got to it.)  So they weren't working. They were sinking in the bath and not spreading out. Maxwell (my grand excited helper) and I had to come up with how to make them less dense than the bath and Maxwell said "ALCOHOL!" because of our density lesson.

Sure enough, we mixed a little alcohol with the dyes, and they worked like a charm. Good ol' science club!

Not sure if you can tell how cool they are from these photos, but marbling is really cool and fun and beautiful!

And as a bonus, out of nowhere, Daniel decided he wanted  to do a little creative writing.  Here's his story and prompt picture:

Bunny Invasion!

Super Hero Daniel heard a big bang. He looked outside, and he saw Dirt Bunny and Cloud Bunny. Daniel had seen these bunnies once before. They were mean and they were 20 feet tall. Dirt was brown and Cloud was white. Dirt had black eyes and Cloud had red eyes. 

They were stomping down the town that everyone was running away from. They were putting people in their mouths and stuffing them in their cheeks.

Super Hero Daniel came out. The bunnies were chasing him. Then Dirt tripped in a trap that Super Hero Daniel had built. Then Cloud fell in the same trap that Dirt had fallen in. 

Super Hero Daniel told them that they needed to take the people out of their cheeks, or he wouldn’t let them go. Daniel the Super Hero let the bunnies out of the trap once the people were safe. He told them they had to leave, or he would do another trick on them. 

Dirt and Cloud never came back, at the people lived happily ever after.

Now is that the cutest story about bunnies stuffing people in their cheeks ever or what!?!