Sunday, October 19, 2014

Newton, Explorers, and PARTY PARTY PARTY!

Well, in the past week we have had over a hundred people over to our house.

First we had a cider party. Not very many people came. I was okay with this. We had spent the day at a birthday party anyway. We made so much cider we don't know how to store it all.

Then we had Thanksgiving.

Then we had a Halloween party.

Yep, Dustin says I'm not allowed to have another party for awhile.

Anyways, thanksgiving kind of doubled as a history activity for learning about Columbus. You know what? I really miss celebrating Plymouth pilgrims, Squanto, and religious freedom for Thanksgiving. Columbus' story is a lot darker. Oh well, welcome to Canada.

We have read the first volume of A History of US now. We read additional books on Vikings, Marco Polo, Columbus, Pocahontas, and Samuel de Champlain. I'm not done with Samuel de Champlain. It's my plan to learn more about him, the Hurons, and the Iroquois this next week. I'm actually more interested in him then other historical figures because I know nothing. I'm learning with my kids and it's fun.

 As far as activities go, I have not had motivation to initiate any. Maxwell was undaunted and has made boats in the explorers' honour without any coaxing. I sure love that boy.

Just you wait for next week though. I am going to do activities from now on! I AM!

In science we learned Newton's first law of Inertia. I love this law because kids understand it so easily. Among other things, we had a "car crash" and showed how people have inertia and keep moving after the car stops.

The next week we talked about acceleration and centripetal force. We spun pennies in balloons and spun ourselves and spun cups full of water. And unlike last time I taught this, I miraculously was not dizzy by the end.

Also, Heather Burton is doing an excellent job teaching the kids creative writing. (As a side note, Crystal is out on sick leave and a teacher I'm not familiar with has taken over book making.) Anyway, Heather taught them all about quotations this week, and I walked into the end of their lesson as they put their "66-sixes and 99-nines" on each side of their head as they said quotes. Cute.

She is also initiating a writing contest. Hyrum has finished his story, and I'll post Maxwell's next week. I have to admit, I had to ask a lot of questions like "how did the squirrels feel about that?" To get this story to the point it's at, but I think it's pretty cute.

Hyrum chose these photos as his writing prompts:

Wonder the Super Squirrel By Hyrum McKay

Paul the Lion roared "Attack the village!" As he started stomping and kicking the houses of the little squirrels. 

"Ahh!" said the squirrels as they started to run away. They were crying and yelling. Some of squirrels got hurt. They were angry and sad at the lion. They did not want to move their village.

"What are we going to do?" They said. One squirrel said "I know! Let's ask super squirrel for help." Another squirrel said "Good idea."

Wonder the Super Squirrel was asleep high up in the tree above the village. The other squirrels knew where he was, and ran to get him. 

"Wake up! Wake up!" they all said as they shook him. 

"Hey, I need my sleep, okay?" said Super Squirrel

One squirrel said "But Paul the Lion is attacking the village!"

"Really?" said Wonder.


"I'll go as quickly as I can and Thunder him out of the village!"

When Paul saw Wonder, Paul said "You can't get me, or thunder me."

But Wonder was a super squirrel and got on his super suit to fight him. Wonder can make lighting and thunder come out of his paws.

Wonder jumped from the branch and as he flew, he zapped Paul. And Paul ran away roaring with pain. He never came back again.

"Yeh! Wonder saved the day!" all the squirrels said. "That was a good plan to ask Wonder." said one squirrel. Another squirrel said "Yes,that was a good plan because Wonder is a hero!"

The end.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A visit with the Elementary School's Principal

I did it! I plucked up the courage to talk to our local elementary school's principal. Why did I do this? Because I wanted to know what elementary schools in my area were doing for Dyslexic children. I wasn't seriously thinking of sending my kids to school, but I was interested in the thought of imitating/getting help from/ or even sending my kids to be tutored by the school system.

The Principal, Mr Bennet, was super nice. He made me feel totally at ease. He is exactly what you would really hope a principal would be.

But what does the elementary school a block away from my home offer my dyslexic son? Not much.

One on one support is reserved for children who are very high needs. VERY high needs.

But there are things they are doing. Small groups of 4-5 kids are kind of group tutored in some instances. There are these cool study rooms attached to classrooms where children who need extra help can go to work on computers or with a teacher's assistant or the teacher.

Children with special needs get ipads so they can verbalize their answers for tests and things.

Teacher assistants are assigned to classrooms where there are children that might need extra help. These assistants are the teacher's tools, so the way they help in the classroom is up to the teacher.

He kept mentioning speech therapy that they offer, but I'm not sure how that would help dyslexic kids. It might, but I'm not sure how.

Teacher assistants are well educated and very experienced. Teachers are of course well educated and very experienced. They are trained to recognize children who are having difficulty and to assimilate different teaching tactics and methods to help the situation.

These teachers meet with the parents three times a year. Once to decide the strategy, one to assess whether or not to adjust the strategy, and once to decided whether or not it was successful.

But is there someone who has been trained to teach dyslexic kids specifically? Most likely no.

So----what did I get out of this meeting? That I am for sure doing the right thing for my kids by teaching them one on one and training myself to be a dyslexia tutor and consistently teaching them with tried and true Orton-Gillingham methods.

I also got the reinforced notion that it is a good idea to get Maxwell "coded" as dyslexic for things like the ACT and college. We're in the process, but it's a VERY slow process.

Also, I got reminded that I should talk to Maxwell's doctor. I really should get his hearing and eyesight tested.

I was a bit sad that they didn't really have anything to offer. When I get burnt out, (and I do quite often,) it would be nice to have some kind of "professional" swoop in and make everything right.

I was not surprised either though. I have heard from local moms who have recently started homeschooling because their child had dyslexia or irlens syndrome and just kept on getting moved forward even though their learning was not moving forward.

I'm glad I went. I'm glad there's a public school. I'm glad I homeschool.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Pressure-----in a lot of ways

This week in science, we leaned about all sorts of pressure. When learning about air pressure, we showed how air could move books, and we also had air blow off rockets.

I don't know how I would be able to do science this year without my new friend, Jandy.  She's a PROFESSIONAL homeschooler :) She's taught public school for around eight years, and taught homeschoolers at a charter school, and now she's teaching me! It's awesome to have help, especially since Abraham needs constant love by one of us.

Not only did we have pressure in science, we had pressure in real life. These horrid politics! Being called a liar is not fun. Tomorrow is the vote--whew!

We actually DID do some history. We learned quite a bit about vikings. and they even started making boats and things, but no photos…what ever.

I think I'll have to figure out how to have a "make up" week or something, so I can get on track with history.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Forces, Friction, and our Awesome Library

Well, I feel like school's in full swing now, but no history got done. I just don't know how to make time for it yet.

I'm starting to learn how to cope with things that were "freaking me out" at the beginning of the school year.

First of all, Abraham.  It's still hard, but I have learned how to nurse and teach at the same time, and just put learning on hold for the moment to focus on the littlest member of our school.  Having his bumbo chair in the middle of our school work helps his moods.

William likes to draw while his brothers write and he loves to be in the middle of the action, and hasn't been more exasperating than usual. Except when he empties ALL of the cereal.

I've decided that I have to condense my tutoring. I just don't have an extra eight hours a week for other children.  But I can't NOT teach them, so I'm teaching then all together=two hours instead of eight. Better than nothing.

And Hyrum got his cast off. He still can't walk properly or be in gymnastics, but things are progressing.

I have now done two weeks of science.  The first week was our introduction to physics. We learned about forces and gravity. We learned all about "push" and "pull" and as part of this, we had a tug-of-war.

I have more kids in my club than last year. We even have a couple girls this year. I don't think they've noticed they're the only girls.

This week we learned about friction. I was thinking that maybe next time around I'll teach inertia first. That makes more sense to me. The friction/lubrication lesson is always one of my favourites. We had kids pulling each other around the floor on sheets, and we skated on shaving cream to show what happens when you get rid of friction.

Last time around I did this inside, and it ruined the finish on my floor. This time I did it in the garage and some kids got bonked on the cement. Maybe next time I'll do it on the grass….

I haven't gotten much history done, which bugs me. I have had a lot of mental space still going towards this dumb political nonsense. We've also been actively trying to inform our community through things like flyers, and that's taken up a lot of time.

Blah….and it's not over yet.

Thank goodness my community ended up teaching my kids social studies this week. We went to an awesome story time. (Our library always has awesome story times.) The native Blood Tribe came and the elementary did some dances and the middle school preformed some songs. This was PERFECT for history this month. Serendipity is wonderful.

We've also had culture days here. Some of my friends put together an awesome Guatemala experience. Here's my nephew at one of the booths.

Also, the alternate school has started their co-op.  In addition to gymnastics, Crystal has been teaching the kids book making, and Heather Burton has been doing creative writing. The creative writing especially has filled a hole in my kids education. So grateful to be a part of this group.

Yes that is Hyrum with his tongue stuck out. Yep.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Politics-----ugh----and Native Americans

Remember this post? and this photo?

Yep, Things are out of control again here in our tiny town.

A few years ago, an employee of Dustin's said "I'm so glad I wasn't homeschooled because I wouldn't have learned how to deal with bullies." Dustin just laughed at him and said "Yah, but who bullies as an adult?"

Well, we've learned who bullies as an adult. We've apologized to that former employee and told him he was right.

Last year when politics blew up, I got severely depressed. I knew I needed medical help it was that bad. But right when I was about to go to the doctor, I found out I was pregnant. This kicked my psyche in the behind.

I was not cured. Not by a long shot, but I was much better than I had been. I knew that I needed to pull it together for someone other than me.

This time I've hardly been depressed at all. I can't sleep, but whatever. This time I have just lost so much respect for some people that they can't hurt me like they once did. I'm sad, not hurt.

I'm sad, and quite a bit furious. I want to shout from the roof tops all the hypocrisy, lies, bullying, and power grabbing, but Dustin coaxes me back down to the ground and helps me realize how it will solve nothing. Eeeerrrrrr I wish he wasn't right. It would be so fulfilling.

Because of politics, I've had a one track mind, and school has suffered.

We did get almost all the reading writing and arithmetic in. William is liking it that school is back in session:

No science. No devotionals. No Robotics.

But we did do a bit of history. We learned a bit about the early native americans. We made totem poles and tepees. My sister-in-law has moved into our basement, and is joining us for history, and it makes it twice as fun.

Maxwell made the biggest tepee, check it out:

So---NEXT week I'll be in full swing------I hope.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Slow but Steady Beginning

Well, This week was not the amazing Full-Blown first week of the year that I would want, but it was what it was.

In fact, I hardly have any photos. While  we did read some history, I ended up not getting to the activities. So no photos. Also, even though I got ready for science, when it came down to it no one could come, so I happily cancelled it.

We DID do reading, writing, and arithmetic. That felt fulfilling. We also did devotionals and EXERCISING! I was so proud of myself.

A friend of mine was saying how when she talks to public school teachers, they admit that it takes a couple of weeks before they are going strong. So there.  I have an excuse.

The homeschool association had their annual track and field day.  I almost didn't go. Hyrum has a broken leg, Daniel's too young, and Maxwell....Maxwell's not really excited about athletics. But in the end, it all worked out wonderfully:

Maxwell was a crack up. He comes up to me and says "I got a second place and a fifth place, now all I need is a third and fourth place." He had a blast.

Here's something cute: Three years ago, I took this first photo and I thought "humm I don't know those two kids very well, but whatever." and this year I took the second photo and I thought "those two kids are so awesome, I'm so glad we know them so well."

The homeschool organization was so sweet and totally included Daniel in the first grade group. He felt so accomplished.

And HYRUM!!!! Hyrum trumped them all. I wish he was wearing shorts so you can see how huge his cast is, but cast or no, he was amazing at the obstacle course. Check it out!

So that was our first week. Last but not least, Dustin and the boys convinced me to let them buy a kitten at the country fair.  Yippee (I say VERY sarcastically.)

Friday, August 29, 2014

School's Starting---and I'm Freaking Out (a bit)

School is supposed to start in a few days, and I feel more intimidated about it than I ever have.  This is why:

Freakout Reason #1: Introducing Abraham

Isn't he the cutest little bundle of newborn you ever did see? Isn't it obvious that he's a delight and joy?  But he's also a TIME-SUCKER! Because of my super hero amazing husband, I've had what should have been the least demanding summer of my life; except I had Abraham. I can put him in his swing for 5 seconds before I need to hold him for 5 minutes before I need to nurse him for 15 minutes before I need to rock with him for 5 minutes before the whole cycle starts over. He has no daytime schedule I can give him and he loves SHORT power naps.

This post-this short post-has already taken me a half hour to do because of Abraham breaks.  How am I suppose to accomplish ANYTHING nevermind everything I want to? AAAHHH

Freakout reason #2: Terrible Twos

This is William. Typical William. Add in a super loud and long WHINING soundtrack, and you've got the 24-hour jist of this jem. He has no interest in movies or electronic devices. I was happy about this for the first two years since babies are not supposed to be exposed to all that, but now it would be a bit convenient to have some sort of break.

Freakout reason #3: Tutoring

I have agreed to tutor four kids in the Barton Reading and Spelling System. The tutoring training says that each child needs one-on-one time, and that they need at least two hours a week. So that's eight hours out of my week not focused on my own kids. I really truly love these four kids and really hope I can help them. That's why I'm doing it, but I'm still a little daunted at the idea.

Freakout Reason #4: Frustration

Yep. Hyrum broke his leg. Not only will he NOT be able to go to Westwind Co-op because he can't do gymnastics, he won't be able to do the exercises I want to do everyday either. But more than that, Hyrum (who isn't the most even keeled child anyway) is easily frustrated at the world because of the overall frustration of being a cripple.

So yah, freaking out a bit.

It doesn't help that apparently, the Homeschool Organization told the new homeschool moms that this blog is a great example of how to homeschool. That's just intimidating. I feel like a flibberty jibbet pretending to be awesome. I fool some, but my kids know the truth.  Hallelujah  my husband works at home. It helps my psyche a bit.

Well, here it goes regardless of anything. SCHOOL STARTS ON MONDAY!