Friday, September 30, 2016

Looking at Schedules and Making Changes.

Somehow it is the end of September.  I have been home educating for the last seven weeks at this point.  I tend to need to take a deep breath by this time and rejoice that we have survived the beginning of the year.  We have begun to get all of our supplies in order, set a schedule, and are trying to get into a rhythm for chores and work.  For me this is a great time to review my schedule and see what is working well and what could be improved upon.  I have been thinking about that this week and what changes I can make.  

1.  I am going to start working with my second grader immediately after breakfast.  She fades fast and has the ability to slip away.

2.  Some of the kids have asked for me to set things out for them the night before.  They want to get their work done first thing.  (Not what I would choose to do, but I'm glad it works for them.)

3.  I continue with my notebook for my High School and Junior High students.  Having all of their syllabuses in the notebook and using the trusty highlighter that confirms completion is a good thing.  

4.  This year I did a staggered start time.  I got my high school and junior high students started one week, then another week elementary and preschool.  The best thing I ever did!  I believe I spread things out over 3 weeks. This made for a much less stressful beginning of the year.  I am going to keep that for next year.

The other thing I did this year was have my high school students make up their own schedule.  They did an amazing job and I am posting pictures below.  It actually made me cry with joy since they both created them.  One of them is better with Excel than the other, and I did hear the latter say to the former: "Hey, don't you owe me a birthday present?"  Then he helped her create one.  (Click on them to make them large enough to read.)

So what changes are you making?  What awesome scheduling tips do you have? I would love to hear them.  

Friday, September 23, 2016

Math Manipulatives I Actually Use

When you first start home educating you are tempted to buy it all.  Especially in math.  I looked through what I had, and figured out what I used the most.

We use the Ones, Tens, and Hundred foam pieces all the time!  I bought this when I was teaching, but found a similar one at Amazon.

These are items I think you should have to teach math: protractor, ruler, dice, calculator, tape measure, and a big die.

I love these fraction tiles.  You can buy them as magnetsplastic pieces, or in a tray.  This is a great resource and we pull it out daily while working on fractions.  (I have pieces missing... get one with all the pieces.)  I found another set with decimals as well.

For learning math facts we have used the Flashmaster for years.  In a world of high tech iPads, laptops, and tablets, I like that the only thing you can do on the Flashmaster is math facts.  No one "accidentally" does anything else.  (I'm sure this doesn't happen at your house, but just in case.)  It is a bit pricey, but I have many children and it has been helpful.  We start each math lesson with it when a student is learning their facts.

The other math fact learning program I have used through the years is The Quarter Mile.  It is a good program that simply reviews the facts.  If you click on this link from the Homeschool Buyers Co-op, there is a video and more information.

Another great resource is linking cubes.  Love these for counting, addition, patterns, and subtraction.

I have used my time manipulatives such as a clock with movable hands, my clock stamp, and an elapsed time board.

These are my elementary go-to math manipulatives.  Which ones have you used the most?

Friday, September 16, 2016

Reading Topic: Concepts of Print

I get many questions every year from families about reading.  How to know if their child is ready to read, how to help their child read, and tips for struggling readers.  My Masters is in Reading, and I am currently taking a reading class to keep my teaching certificate current.  I am hoping these posts will be helpful for families.   If you have a question you would like answered in a post please write it in the comments.    

Concepts Of Print (COP) or Concepts About Print (CAP) can be defined is a set of understandings about how print works.  A child acquires CAP before they are able to read.  Children who have CAP know which way to hold a book, know text has meaning, know words are made of letters, that text is read from left to right, and that there is punctuation at the end of sentences.

Students who grow up in print rich environments and are read-aloud to will usually pick these skills up naturally.  Below is a short video that is directed to parents explaining CAP.

This video is done by a teacher assessing if a child has CAP. You can teach these to your child each time you read a book to them.  Ask them different questions each time.  "Where is the title?  Where is the first page? Where do you start?"  The video will show you more.

If you want to check if your younger student has CAP here is a checklist assessment that will help you determine that.  You ask your student some basic questions and check them off on your paper.

Here are some apps that are helpful for building CAP.

The following are based on the Bob Books.  Bob Books Reading Magic Lite which is free at GoogleAmazon, and iTunes.  Bob Books Reading Magic #1 Reading Magic is 2.99 to 3.99 at GoogleAmazon, and iTunes.

Disney Story-time at iTunes.

The popular online program Starfall has a free app at GoogleAmazon, and iTunes.

 Let me know what you think, and any reading questions that you have!

Friday, September 09, 2016

Ready Made Preschool 2

Some of your may remember from past posts how I have enjoyed using the Ready Made Preschool Program with my kids.  This year I bought the Seasonal ABCs's Level 2.

 The Seasonal ABC Level 2 is a 30 week program.  It is designed to be used four days a week for about 50-60 minutes.  You work with your student 3 weeks out of the month.  Also included is a Fall and Winter lesson. Each week has a book that you provide to read before each lesson.  You are learning the lower case and upper case letters.

  The kit comes in the large white box.  I moved all the art supplies into a plastic tub and moved the folders into the older Seasonal ABC's Level 1 box.   I left some of the larger items in the big box.  Three weeks of supplies are included in each manila folder.

 Every small craft item is in a small plastic bag and it is labeled for the week that it goes with.    You just pull  out the provided supplies and you have instant preschool.  All the searching your house for items, going to the store for little craft supplies is now taken care of.  For child #7 this is a good thing. as there would be no preschool otherwise.  I appreciate all the work that went into this program.

The above picture shows some of what we  accomplished this week.  Including reading  How To Make An Apple Pie and see the World.  We also wrote the letter "Aa"  in sand, shaving cream, and made it out of play dough.   This program helped us to have a great week!   I truly feel like a better mom.  I appreciate that. 

I will keep you updated!

Friday, September 02, 2016

Repost: Helping Our Students Focus

I feel like things have been a little crazy around my house.   Every time I turned around it seemed like I'd lost someone.  They were disappearing to rooms and other places away from their studies.  

I felt like I had to do something to get them back on focus.  I thought about it and I came up with 3 questions to ask them each hour.

1. What have you done?

2. What are you doing now?

3. What are you going to do next?

This has worked surprisingly well.  I did this for a few days and then stopped and everyone was doing better at being on task.  It was rather painless for me.  My son made a chart for me.  Here is a copy in case you'd like to try it.