Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Drama and Service to Others

So it wasn't a very catchy title jumping out at you this time. There was just - not really a good way to bring a post about two totally different things together in to a one-liner description. :) 

On top of music this year (another post) my three older children, LM, Hoss, and Miss Priss, are participating in a drama. Through their music teacher last May, we learned about a church not far from where we live that hosts a Christmas play every other year - A Christmas Carol. 
LM is playing the part of the 'First Spirit', Hoss is (chuckle) Tiny Tim (he's anything but tiny, but they said he does the part wonderfully) and Miss Priss is one of the younger Cratchit daughters. 



Here is LM with old Scrooge himself, working in one of their first rehearsals together. She is super excited to get this part - it's what she wanted, and it's also her first to ever be in a play like this. Unless you count those they come up with at home, which can't really compare yet. :) She is doing amazing, but of course - I am bias. 



It's hard to see, but Miss Priss is sitting in the chair to the right, closest to where I was, sporting a nice ponytail. Just past her is Hoss' head leaning over. This is the only shot I've been able to successfully take of their rehearsals so far, practicing a Cratchit family scene. I'm not sure what it says about my children or myself, that they are so excited about the part of the play where they get to eat real food during the Christmas meal scene. :)

They are doing amazing, and I am so thankful for this chance for them!


I also enjoy getting them out to help with something outside their own bubble that they live in. It just so happens that my mother is secretary at her church, where they run a weekly food pantry. So we are able to help sometimes, getting food bags and boxes ready to hand out. The kids love it, and I love the chance to get to explain to them how nice they have it and how much God has blessed them to not have to worry about where the next meal is coming from. 

Bagging chicken

Dividing crackers

Helping load boxes, and put things away

Cleaning freezers

And, yes - fussing over who gets to roll the cart from one room to the next. Alas - they aren't perfect :) 

We have been super busy the last couple of weeks, with my husband finally falling in to a 'home 1 1/2 weeks, gone 1/2 week' schedule and birthdays this week and next week.
Never a dull moment! 



Friday, September 4, 2015

Scientific Observations

One day last week, while cleaning up from breakfast, Hoss discovered this guy sitting on the window outside of our kitchen. 



Hoss grabbed a plastic food container, captured this guy, and brought him in. I think he figured he was probably not fully alive - which was a WRONG assumption, by the way - and wanted to preserve the body. He put a lid on it, and for a while this huge moth didn't move a hair ( pun intended ). LM took this time to observe every detail she could about the outward appearance, and recorded them for keeping. 

(which my phone has apparently turned sideways for me)

Then it got interesting, when all of a sudden - he woke up. Then, we heard nothing but frantic wing beating through this container. We let him go, but not before we would at least figure out that what we had found was a 'Waved Sphinx Moth'. We finally found our moth here, where you can find a good description of this type of moth. They all loved to watch his movements, feel how soft the wings were, and see it go in spurts of very active flying, to not moving it at all. I had to act mercifully and tell the kids to let it go, so that it would survive, and remind Hoss that it's not okay to preserve a moth if you have to first deprive it of life. 

He (or she - something else to look up, maybe?) did make for some good scientific observations, though. :) Education is where we find it - not always where we are given it without some work.


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Tidbits

Although I wasn't present on the blog much over the summer, we actually have tried to keep up with some school related work. Or - maybe school related is too strong a word. We have been busy. That's probably more accurate.

My husband, who was gone the first half of the year, is now back every other week thankfully. The down side is, it will probably continue that way for the rest of the year, unless he gets longer orders to go elsewhere. I know that it's hard to understand a schedule like that if you aren't married to a man who is #1 In the military or #2 Travels for work. A LOT. 

We began school in August, slowly, as we tend to drift out of school sometime in May of every year and drift back in around the beginning/middle of August. At a time when everyone else is vacationing, we had already had our vacation (back in February) so we stayed busy at home base. I was very blessed this summer to acquire some new (to me) materials from the local Montessori school here, and also to buy a few things we needed. One of the biggest blessings were the complete bead cabinet beads, minus the cabinet. The color is off from the traditional colors that are sold. Apparently, these are old and I am not completely sure what company they came from. They would not work in a traditional Montessori classroom, and most homeschool parents buying them might not even like the color change. I knew it would only be a short adjustment for my bunch, and for a fraction of the price, they have more than made up for the change.

My tidbit today is just a sensorial blurb, showcasing Buddy Boy. He has a renewed interest in the Brown Stair and Brown Tower, now that he has the bead cubes to compare with them. One day, while I was working with another child or two, I turned around and he was working steadfastly to bring the brown stair and brown tower in and set it up. Then he brought in our bead cubes, and set them up. Then he went and got the individual bead bars, and put it all together. I love when something occurs to them without my help or prompting. When his brain is connecting without me needing to assist. So, without further ado and so much chit-chat on my end, here we have some not-so-great-in-quality pictures, because I had to shoot them quickly, to show what was in fact almost 40 minutes of working through what he was thinking about, moving the stair and tower around and bringing everything to where he wanted it. 


This was actually the last picture I took, after he made the vertical connection of the pink stair (except, ours is brown) and the bead cubes.


He worked fr a long time to make sure this was just how he liked it. It doesn't look like it should take very long, but in truth he had to concentrate and move very carefully to balance connected bead bars that tend to roll around. The one beads were especially difficult, and his determination was endless. 


Bug always tends to get in on the action, quite happy to try and get credit for something she didn't do. Or maybe she's just a camera hog. :) She was actually working on another project that we were preparing for, which I will share later - after we've completed it :) 


Few pictures this time, but just a quick insight in to what's going on and how we sometimes work in spurts, sometimes not as perfectly smooth as I'd like it to be, but right now, it's what works. :) 

Happy Homeschooling!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Something Old, Something New, Something Bought, Something Blue

A story of a work that's old, made new for a child, revisited by another. 

These pictures were taken almost 2 years ago. This was the first time Bug demonstrated mastery of numbers and counters. 



Fast forward to this past week, new materials since then (the sandpaper numerals) and new child (Buddy Boy), work that's old (numbers and counters), and something blue - these nice $1 gems from the Dollar Store - the same in both the pictures above and below. 

Here is Buddy Boy and his first presentation with numbers and counters.




We are still working on visual recognition of the numbers, but I added this work in because I knew he would enjoy it, and that the visual representation would further aid him in seeing the difference. Without the  gems, 5 and 8 mine as well be the same - both have a circular motion in them, so seeing the gems helped. 

He did fairly well with this work. I was with him the entire time, as he is far from mastery still. 
After he was finished, Bug decided she wanted to do it again, Per her request, I caught some on video and thought I'd share. After the layout, I 'tested' her (though she didn't know to take it that way) to see if she remember the rule of even/odd. 






As soon as I stopped recording, she turned to me and announced that she noticed that every other number was even/odd. I think this may have been the first time she has noticed that - she knew the rule, but didn't put two and two together to see that it was a pattern in the numbers. 

So a work was both new and revisited, and I loved being right in the middle of it all, both observing and guiding! :)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

School days - May 2015

If an unclear picture bothers you, I apologize in advance. I definitely never started blogging because I wanted to showcase my perfect picture taking abilities. 

Here recently we have started something a little new. We are going to try it out over the next couple of months and see if it works well. You may have read in this post before about our expectation cards. They do work very well, but right now we are working with a little less space and a busy schedule - baseball, summer coming up, and I'm still the only adult here to get all the other non-school things done. So in an effort to streamline each day of school and be able to add in all the summer fun that is coming in a few weeks, we are going to one subject a day. For their expectation cards right now, I printed out a card for each day except Friday. Monday is math, Tuesday is grammar, Wednesday is language/spelling, and Thursday is history. I listed every thing that might apply to them now or in the future, and their job is to look at the card and know which of those different areas they currently have work in for that day. 
 It will also help my bigger kids to depend a little more on that journal to keep them moving  with what they are doing. 

Okay, now that the update is over, I'll share a little of what I captured over the last 2+ weeks since I did an update here. 


Miss Priss finished all work with the multiplication board. She will be moving on to multiplying with the stamp game, she's done that before but will need a refresher, and working more on division as well.


She also gave Bug a lesson one day in the short bead chains. I have been a bit relaxed with Bug, and it's so true that so much gets picked up through observance and learning that we don't always plan. However, I want to try to get her to a better routine and working daily. She just turned 6, and it's time to get her little brain focused on getting at least 2 or 3 things done a day, every school day. 


Hoss had a refresher in division, because I admit - I wasn't very on the ball about getting his math in order and lined up well. He is working on the memorization charts now, after having finished an abbreviated version of the board. Both Hoss and LM are reluctant to use materials that take a lot of time to set up, so if I find myself in a situation where they need to take their time but know they will buck it, I try to find a better way. For him, he used the blue beads and set up small groups on the table to show the work he was doing, but didn't pull the board out. Eventually, he moved to working the last 20 or so out on the whiteboard, using blue circles and dots. 


Buddy has been doing a LOT of drawing and working on writing his numbers, letters, short words, especially his name. I just ordered the sandpaper letters and moveable alphabet over the weekend. I am so excited to get them in for language extensions and writing!


Some impromptu sink/float work one day. Bug pulled out trays out from our DIY landforms (got the idea from here) work, and used the tray with water to see what would sink and float. 


I've also been doing a TON of creating, printing, and laminating. In this picture you can see grammar strips for parts of speech, decimal cards for laying out amounts on the decimal board, and on the middle left you can get a glimpse of the expectation cards that I printed out. Sidenote - each person's expectation card(s) slide in to their own pocket of a small pocket chart I found at Target, I think. 


Last week, on Tuesday when we were working on grammar, we reviewed all parts of speech up to prepositions (noun, article, adjective, verb, adverb). LM had already had the lesson on prepositions, but I think Hoss didn't for some reason. And, of course, Miss Priss hadn't yet. We worked through what a preposition was, it's function, and then used the preposition cards from Elementary Observations to talk about some common prepositions. It's a great printable, and I was able to separate them into common prepositions and ones that aren't as commonly thought of, or that have special rules. 


Together with the white board to write the sentence on, so all three kids could see it, and objects that they grabbed for the fulfilling of the sentence, we gave examples for each preposition for that day, and then they wrote the sentence down and labeled the part of speech. I have two handy, dandy homemade stencils that help with the labeling. Of course, Waseca and Alisons Montessori have some you can buy, which are perfect for this! But El-Cheapo (that's me!) decided to make them instead. 

Below is an example of one of the sentences we used and Hoss fulfilled with his chosen animal. 
"A/The scorpion sits on the box."
Nothing complicated, just getting the point across.


Recently, Bug has taken it upon herself to do a little self-directed work. In the picture below, she took my bag of Jolly Ranchers (given to me for Mother's Day, which I have no desire to eat and am slowly doling out to the kids) and sorted each one by color, then recorded the color and amount for each group.
Nothing like handwriting, classifying and counting (Math and Science) all in one!


She also found this book at the library last week and we actually just did this work today (Sunday) after their obligatory nap time. 


I used our fraction bars that we got here to show the written fraction for 1/2, 1/4, and 1/8 and then she was able to see that relationship between 1/2, 2/4, and 4/8 as well. 



And speaking of library, our chances to go to our lovely libraries have been touch and go for a few months now, because of our rather busy schedule, but we were able to make story time for the first time in a while this last week, which was so fun - and weirdly comforting, somehow. Even to me. Go figure!


Also - and this is a REALLY bad picture, but the lighting and distance were factoring against me - the children had their Spring concert and awards this last week. Hoss and Miss Priss' general music theory class had a blast this year learning rhythm, how to read basic music, and how to separate in to different parts in a group. I didn't have a picture of them to put in here, though :(, because I ended up stuck in the wings helping bring out boomwhackers, bell plates (couldn't find a link to show you what these are, but they are used for handbell choirs, just a bit less expensive, and other things needed for their part in the program. 
LM was in the middle/high school choir, though only 10, and absolutely loved it! Learning to sing in a group with other sopranos, altos, tenors, and bass singers was very good for her this year. She also sang a solo for the solo and ensemble competition and received a superior medal, pictured below (her actual score was an I+, which means she went above the high score. She wouldn't brag about that, but I'm her mama and I get to)!


We are getting geared up and ready to start the summer reading programs and shift in to summer schedule. On the slightly more personal side, my husband is ALMOST DONE with his school. He gets home in the beginning of July, which may sound like a long time, but when he's been gone since January, it's definitely the home stretch! (can you tell I'm a little happy about this?!?!?!?!)




Saturday, May 9, 2015

To all the supermamas out there.....

You don't have to feel like super woman. In fact, chances are you - usually, you don't. That's okay, though. You don't have to. Your children already think you are. 


With Love - 

Amy@No Greater Honors

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Neglect - such a dirty 7-letter word...

It's really awful. She's been neglecting her blog.

No, that's not really what's happening. We are just so busy with school and life! The very thing I started a blog to cover has kept me busy! I just felt the need for myself (and anyone else that cares out there, but mostly for myself) to say that I am still loving being able to blog, and sometimes it just means playing catch up after a couple weeks. 

I have found that trying to overly focus on catching pictures of everything we are doing can sometimes overshadow actually doing them. So I grab one if I can, but I want to make sure I keep my focus where it's supposed to be. 

That, and the fact that I am starting to work on an at-home business (Plexus) and that has taken some time working that in to my schedule. 

Sometimes, things get a little crazy around here.... 



But what I love is this:


Lunch dates


I love seeing the light come on when a child learns to read. 


I love seeing the personal desire to learn something  when it's their OWN idea, not just mine!


I love seeing them be more than just siblings, but also friends.... 


I love getting to make these memories with them, at times when some parents can't.



Sometimes I can catch them on camera, but sometimes - I just have to put down the phone and do life! 

I am hoping as you read this, that you can understand :) 





Monday, April 27, 2015

Lately In Life

Just an update of some of what we've been doing around here.

MATH

Bug finished the addition booklet I printed out for her to use with the addition finger chart. I also gave her the first presentation of commutative addition (modified because it's been a while since I gave it to Miss Priss, couldn't remember exactly the steps I  used last time, and I needed to give it immediately that day) with the printed bead bars. I am in the process of  making her a new version of the addition booklet, to practice identifying the commutative addition equations.

\
Miss Priss was working on some pages she tore out of an old workbook we had eons ago, that had been hole-punched and put in her binder. She came to a page that had addition equations involving money and several addends. She was having a difficult time, but has been resistant to using the stamp game - I think it's becoming more time consuming than she feels is necessary. I showed her how it is possible to do the same thing, using dry erase markers on the board. She really seemed to enjoy this, and it actually  made it very easy to slide her over to abstract recording with exchanges (carrying) by doing it this way. 

You can see that we wrote the equation on the left side of the board, used colored dots (to represent the *stamps*) on the right side of the board, and did our exchanging and carrying simultaneously. 


She had a total of six equations, all set around a theme of lunch menu choices - she had to locate certain foods on the  menu and first record how much each cost before being able to work the problem. By the time the sixth came around, she was fairly good at being able to watch the exchanging with the 'marker stamps' and record it as carrying on her paper. I hope that all makes sense. It was really quite neat to see her work that process out in her head and see the light bulb come on.


She also finished her multiplication charts and I pulled out our multiplication board. Here she is working through the board, one equation at a time (starting with 2x2, 2x3, 2x4 etc.) and seeing how many she can correctly recall and place on the board. Really what happened is the first couple of rows came easy, she would check each one with the Pythagoras chart, and she caught the basic skip counting pattern. She finished 4 rows, I think, and it's still sitting, waiting for her to get back to it on Monday. 


At the same time, Bug was working on the hundred board with a little help from the boys. Well, Hoss was helping. Buddy was just kind of there. Half observing, half getting in the way, most likely. Sadly we found that we have a missing #45 chip - got to find that thing. It ruined the work when she couldn't find it. 


I also did a review with the three oldest kids, although mostly in line with what Miss Priss needed, on remembering place values. They had to identify place values in to the millions  on paper, but up on our white board (not pictured) we had actually gotten in to the billions. And for some reason, Miss Priss is consumed with figuring out how much money Alice Walton (the late Sam Walton's daughter) has. That provided for some interesting talks and some intense work on how high a number can get... hahaha ;) 

In this particular work, they had a number in to the millions in each box. They sometimes had to circle the numbers with the correct color for it's place value, sometimes they had to make sure to add the commas in the correct places, or identify what digit was in what place, or the place value name of a given digit, etc. 


LM had been working diligently with the decimal board, and decided to review herself by giving Hoss a lesson. He is very good at adding money (hence early decimal work) of course, and is quite taken with adding money whenever he gets the chance. She decided to go at the lesson from that direction first, and I watched as she explained (in her own terms) what part the decimal point played, identified the numbers on each side - not completely correctly, so I jumped in there to throw in the right vocabulary - and they added a few 'money' equations on the board. 


Then, quick as a flash, she erased the dollar signs, and boom. There we just had decimals. She's quite the - ummmm - commanding personality, so that was right up her alley!


We've also been reviewing parts of speech - something we (sigh) haven't touched on since we moved. Horrid - I know. Oh, well. We haven't, and we needed to review before I introduced and worked with new ones. LM even needed it - she obviously didn't retain them very well. So it was good for the three oldest to. This week we reviewed the verb and adverb, and laughed a little at some combinations. I am going to pull out the logical adverb game next week, because Miss Priss will love it and Hoss is always up for a game. 


Yes, the above picture DOES say car (noun) talks (verb). LM thought she was being funny, I almost debated the logical rationality of such a combination, until I woke myself up to today's technology. Cars DO talk to you. LOL - my husband's car reads him his texts while he drives. Sigh. I kind of like things staying the same. They don't, though, so 'car talks' passed. 
However, when we reviewed the adverb and 'shaves awkwardly' came up, I began to wonder what was going through her mind.... :) 


Hoss was working on some correct punctuation here. He doesn't take his time in writing to make sure he uses correct punctuation, capitalization, and so on. I made a few sentence strip sheets for him to 're-write and correct' which I hope got him to slow down and work on making sure he uses correct sentence formatting (trying to make, "capital letters, periods, apostrophes in your sentences SON!" sound smart!) .


Another things that Hoss and Miss Priss have been working on is learning ASL.
This interest spurned from a series I found at one of our little libraries, actually. If you've never heard of the deaf FBI agent Sue Thomas, her life story is amazing! It was also turned in to this show, which just so happens to have a five volume DVD series, which I just so happen to *love*. The kids have seen enough of it to be very interested in ASL.


In the picture above they were getting a recap on the ASL alphabet, which they actually learned quite some time ago. Below Miss Priss and Hoss were 'talking' to each other over lunch. They said it was their 'secret language'. For anyone further interested, if you have a Netflix account, there is a show called Signing Time, and although we've only gotten to one episode so far, they really enjoyed watching and learning a few new things - like how to ask and tell someone their name. 


Bug is finally wanting to progress more with her reading. She wants to be able to read independently before the library summer reading program, and one day a week or so ago revisited the Bob books that are in 'her' school drawer. We also have an early reader, pink series work (which, if she would get a little farther in her reader, she could easily move in to blue) and other beginning reading materials available for her to choose from. The favorite is still generally the Abeka beginning reader book. 


Buddy hasn't been as busy with Montessori inspired work as I'd like him to be. I have gotten so far down to the basics that we keep the same style in some of our every day activities but I don't have as much out for him on the shelves as normal. And sometimes he does things, and I just don't catch him in time. I caught a picture of him after he decided to build the brown tower one day. He also claimed it was a Christmas tree, and that the bowl on top (which held the two smallest cubes, stacked, although you can't see them well in the picture) was the 'star'. So his imagination got in on that one a little bit, but he also did a great job for the most part of aligning each block - his attention to detail has been getting much better. He's also writing - mostly his name, but it's so fun to see that happen all of a sudden! 


I do try to incorporate 'practical life' i.e. independence whenever possible. Especially if it means I can be doing school or work while they are getting their own lunch. That's always handy :) 


Or if it means they are making goodies that I surely don't need, but that taste wonderful! LM and Hoss have decided that if they just embark on something without making a fuss, it's easier that way and they can show me they can really do it well. That has scored me some cherry pineapple cupcakes and brownies over the last week. 


I took these pictures one day. Raw honesty. All in the same moment, school can look like this in one room:


this in the next:


and this in another:


The beauty of homeschooling :) And the art of taking a picture of one particularly serene moment and, if you don't share the big picture, no one has to be the wiser for it :) 

IN OTHER NEWS:

We went to the pet store one day to get a necessary item for our kitty - who thankfully is now not going to ever be able to be a daddy kitty. If you don't get that taken care of soon enough, it's a rather horrid, stinky mess. Let me assure you. I digress - after we got what we needed to be able to take him to the vet safely, we had to look around at all the animals. Cats, dogs getting groomed, fish of all kinds, turtles, and all manner of rodents (everything looks too much like a mouse to me for me to be excited about this one). We were also able to see a few different types of birds. There's education everywhere, if you look in the right places :) 


Bug celebrated her 6th birthday. I don't know where the time has gone! Her cake went something like this:
1. See cake on internet. 
2. Have too many cooking/baking shows in your past.
 3. Because of #2, you show pretty cake to 5 year old.
 4. Make cake.
 5. Attempt to cover in fondant.
 6. Realize #5 was a bigger deal than you thought. 
7. Cover it anyway, and reassure yourself that it's really okay 
because, after all, she's just newly 6 and still thinks I'm awesome.
 She doesn't know any different...yet.
And she did, in fact, love it. 

I have been able to start getting up and walking in the morning - most mornings with my furry friend, Beaux :) I just posted this because - well - because it's life. I love that time to wake up to the day and be ready for the day before the kids get up, not the other way around!


This last small group of pictures was almost an afterthought. Who'd of thunk (that's a good ol' southern word there) that LM would decide to get serious about drawing with an etch a sketch?! She's always been a little artist - and apparently, there's a new art form - etch-a-sketchery :) 


Basketball Man


Grand Canyon (complete with cursive writing, sketch-style)


The Melting Pot


Profiler

:) We always manage to have a lot of fun around here, get a lot of work done, and live life the fullest we can! I hope you are reading this and can say the same thing!


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