Thursday, November 29, 2012

Letter b and d Activity

Confusing the letters b and d is very common up to 1st grade.  And yes, my first grade kiddo confuses b and d.  :-)   Here's a very simple activity he did today to help him in this area, using the "bed" trick.  Feel free to download a copy for your child(ren) if it would be helpful!
I provided dice that I created using circle stickers and handwritten b and d letters.  He rolled until he filled one side (the letters had a race-probability).  I tried to watch as much as possible so that he was forming his b and d's properly.  We've been spending some time relearning proper letter formation.  I tend to be a stickler when it comes to that.  When they form them correctly...the letters look much nicer!  After he filled in the table he went onto to finger stretching the word, spelling, and writing the word under each picture.  We use HWT's for our handwriting program.  With this child I find that the smaller the spaces...the better the handwriting, so we are moving beyond typical 1st grade penmanship paper.  I used 2 colored lines.  Green for the grass and brown for the ground.  He knows that above the grass is the sky.  :-)  This has really helped L.'s penmanship!  He's made such progress since the beginning of the school year! I'm very proud of him...and even better...he sees the improvement and realizes that writing doesn't tire him as much (we are also working on proper posture :-P).  He loves that he can read his own writing now!
Please remember documents from Preschool Learning and Schooling at Home are for personal use only.  The website that I got this particular yak in the bed clipart is ClipArt ETC.  A lovely resource for teachers (and homeschooling moms).  Check them out, if you haven't done so already!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


This week, in Science2, the children were learning about magnetism.  Today, all the kids were involved. 
 This "all wanting to be involved" is one thing I struggle with here with our schooling at home.  Most of the children want to do the other children's science, art, and history lessons...sometimes even literature.  So how do you level that out?  Any suggestions?  One side of me really wants to allow that.  Most off these kiddos hasn't had the "background" that some of the K12 curriculum already assumes they do.  Besides that, they learn so much from each other in group lessons (even if it's just learning patience/sharing).  The conversations that we have during the lessons and what I hear after the lessons are lovely!  But...if I let them all join in each other's lessons...then they don't get their own lessons done in timely manners.  So, we're still working on a balance.  Today I decided, "whatever...we'll catch their lessons up somewhere else" and then of course I'll start worrying about when on earth'll get smoothed out somewhere along the way!  Today we did group multiplication (3rd math), group magnetism (2nd science), group volcano (2nd literature).  The 2nd grade curriculum is super!  The first grader here is one lucky boy!  He may not understand every aspect of our group lessons but boy oh boy...he's getting quite a foundation for learning! 
So back to the topic of magnetism. 
I could only find them on the World Book site and they cost $ we'll continue checking them out from the library.  We LOVE Bay County Library System!  :-D
Here is a series of books by World Book that I passed up umpteen times because they really didn't appeal to me all that much but broke down on the Magnetism book because it touched on every objective that our week long science2 unit covered.  The kids absolutely loved this cartoon style book!  I will be going back to check them out again at the library, this time being a little more open minded about the series. We'll be moving onto the Sound unit and look at that!  There's a "sound" book.  I'm curious if it will cover as much as the Magnetism book did!  Anyway, I tweaked our plans a bit and we did multiple "lessons" in a day and finished up the unit with them acing the unit assessment...all with using this book vs. the computer lesson and doing some hands-on explorations.  Lovely!  That frees up time during the rest of this week to do other subjects.  Other Schooling at Home and Homeschooling families will definitely understand!  :-)
Below is one of many explorations we did during the last couple days and it was so interesting to the kiddos!  Very simple...if you haven't done it yet...please do!
We were exploring this idea that the Earth is a giant magnet and how that allows a compass to work.  So we created a compass with a bowl of water, portion of a plastic cup and a magnet with N/S poles labeled.  FYI:  be sure you have your other magnets put some distance away.  :-P  No matter where they move the cup with the magnet it will ALWAYS turn back to the N, and relatively quickly also!  (Except when the 3 year old slipped the magnet wand near the bowl.  LOL)  They loved this very simple experiment and it helped them think "outside of the box".  I don't know about you all but getting the kids to express "I wonder" statements is really hard.  All of them.  Typically I don't see that among homeschooling families but I do see it among many brick and mortar schooled families.  Interesting little observation there. In our situation, there was one teacher that gained my respect immensely but after leaving that classroom...the outside the box thinking/I wonder thinking was gone within a few months of being with the next year's teacher.  Isn't that sad?  There are some lovely teachers out there but I find that those are few and far between and I don't place the blame solely on them.  I do feel a big portion of it should be placed on the higher ups who think they know what's best in the education realm...and in reality...they really don't.  The actual teachers are paying the price...which in turn is causing the students to pay a big price also.  Ah!  We're grateful for options for education!  I'll get off my soapbox now.  Just to set things straight...I'm not against brick and mortar schooling.  It definitly has it's place.  If it comes down to it, I wouldn't hesitate to put them back in one.  However, my feelings on homeschooling/schooling at home have changed immensely within the last 3 months.  There are pros and cons to both, absolutely.  Right now, though it takes a lot of work on my part and the children's part...we love what we are doing.  (And whoever said that schooling at home/online schooling is more like independent study and is not remotely similar to incorrect...yes, I've heard that.  :-O  Definitely not independent study and the parent/learning coach is directly involved.)
Shout out for K12/MVCA!  Awesome curriculum/awesome staff-support! 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pompeii-notebooking page

The children were learning about Mt. Vesuvius and how it erupted and buried the city of Pompeii, Italy.  A sad/tragic story but very interesting and a great history lesson that brings in many components.  One component we were able to review the importance of archaeologists.  Another was about how science has changed and how scientists are on the watch out for things that might cause natural disasters and many times can forewarn communities. 
The children have really enjoyed learning the meaning behind some of our English words.  Volcano actually came from the name of a Roman god named Vulcan.  They believed that Vulcan was a blacksmith god who was busy deep in the ground at his fiery forge creating weapons and other items for the other gods and goddesses and every once in awhile the heat, smoke, and flames would break through the surface of the Earth.  This was their way of explaining what we know today as volcanoes.
A simple but well-enjoyed notebooking page today for History2. 
4th grader
Two pieces of paper.  The bottom paper has the word VOLCANO across the top and also a fill in the blank paragraph about what we learned.  (I knew we'd be spending time on our volcano drawings and so I arranged it so there was less writing involved this time around, I try my hardest to keep our group lessons at 30 minutes...though most times, like this morning, history ends up going 45-60 minutes).  They laid another piece of paper on top of their VOLCANO page and folded it down just so that it didn't cover the world VOLCANO.  They then drew an unerupted volcano on their page, going over the flap.  When they were done they opened the flap and created their erupted volcano.  We glued the volcano drawing page to the bottom of the summary flap to cover the written summary.  Like I said, simple...but well enjoyed.  Actually, 2 children asked to take it further and draw the city around the base of the mountain later when they had a few minutes...I hope they do!  :-) 
 2nd grader
3rd grader
 2nd grader

 1st grader
ISBN  0-397-8866-99
This is the book that came along with the 2nd grade supplies for this particular lesson.  Check your local library...for only about $3.50 at places like Barnes and Noble or Amazon.
You can download our very simple notebooking page summary here.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Painted Leaves

I had meant to share these quite awhile ago!  Aren't they awesome?
W. and E. brought these leaves from home...very cool painted designs.
Something that will go on the "to do" list for next fall.  If I post the picture here, maybe I'll remember!  Might have to go to their place to find such big leaves though! 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Henri Rousseau

Henri Rousseau-Self Portrait
A man that was born in France who loved the rainforest.  He would visit the library and botanical gardens to get a better understanding of the he had never visited one!
This was a lovely reinforcement for 3rd grader who was just introduced to climate zones!  We looked at a map and found where the well-known rainforests were (around the equator-tropical zone) and then we looked at where France was (in the temperate zone).  Great introduction!  Definitely peaked interest!
Surprised! (Tiger in a Tropical Storm)
This was the main painting we focused on.  We discussed
* shades of green
* types of animals in jungle/rain forest
* patterns, patterns, patterns
* overlapping and techniques to show illusions of space
* weather-how the artist painted to show the weather.
Other of his paintings...
 All of these images are from Wikipedia...check their site to see larger images.  One thing I do for my kiddos is to save the pictures on my hard drive in the largest size/quality possible and then show them with a "slide show" so the pictures take up the whole computer screen.  :-)

4th grade
3rd grade
2nd grade 
 2nd grade
 1st grade
3 year old
This was one of their favorite art projects yet!  In our K12 curriculum it fell under Art grade 2.   I found a rainforest sound youtube video that we played while they were working. :-) We had books of animals for them to look at and read the book "If I Ran the Rainforest" (Dr. Seuss).  We pulled out our Animal Habitat game, as well.  Sometimes jungle and rain forest animals get mixed up...and the older kids are getting picky about it.  :-)  So we talked about it but then they were able to do what they wanted.  Most children took 2 sessions to do this activity.  The first session we spent drawing and gluing our layers- I had my eldest create shades of green painted paper for us to use over the weekend so they were ready to go.  You can really see the layers in the 1st grade picture!  Then the second session we talked about animals and patterns and I provided some coloring page pictures for 3 year old and 1st grader.  I also had animal patterned paper that was a hit but they had colored scrap paper to work with also if they desired.  I loved how they all took off with this activity.  What a great way to start our morning!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Friendly Letter Organzier

Having some picture quality issues.  I don't like blurry pictures! If anyone else has had this issue...please share how you fixed it...thanks!   My guess is it's something with Blogspot...maybe a setting?
One topic our 2nd and 3rd graders are both covering at the moment is what a friendly letter is and how to write it.  We already explored with writing a letter when we wrote to a couple other homeschooling families... so this isn't a new concept for them...but it was a more formal lesson. 
One thing that I find about K12 curriculum, is that there is much that is being assumed that my students already know.  However, though K12's curriculum seems different than what our local school's different in a good way.  They cover quite a bit!  One thing I enjoy about it is that topics are covered more than one year in a row...just the older the student is...the more detail they go in (or less if it's a review lesson).   So, what I'm finding is that in somethings (such as writing a friendly letter) the 3rd grader really needs the 2nd grade lessons.  :-)  Not because of the 3rd grader herself...but because she just hasn't had any introduction to the topic.  So another benefit to having multiple age groups (grade 1-4) here is that when I see that a child doesn't really have the background knowledge necessary to really "get" their own lesson...I can slip back and use the grade's all here somewhere!  :-)  So that's just what I'm doing.  The 2nd graders get step by step details about what a friendly letter is, the parts of the letter, how to write and revise a letter, address the envelope and etc.  The 3rd grade lessons pretty much assume you have already done that and they provide "review" lessons. 
So, here's what I came up with to help my 3rd grader with writing a friendly letter. 
(So there you have the blurry picture...this was saved at the highest quality...uploads crystal clear for a second and turns into this blurry image directly after ????  Any suggestions?)
This causes her to think about her audience and the purpose of her letter.  Then come up with the first sentence of the body, 3 details that support that beginning sentence and an ending sentence to sum it all up.  Then all she has to do is rewrite it nicely with heading (date/address), greeting, closing, and signature.  Organizers are so helpful to elementary aged students!  We will be using this organizer when we do our "monthly" letters to the other homeschooling families.  The children also wrote a letter to friend and family and we sent them on their way.  So exciting for them.  Letter writing is turning into a lost art.  So sad.  So much more personal than an email!  :-)  Let's get our kids back into it!  Guess I should sit down and write letters and be a good example! 
black and white copy available also in download

Monday, November 12, 2012

Grammar Posters

Edit:  12/1/12  An error on the Direct Object posters had been found and is corrected.  Sorry for the inconvenience. 

Grammar...the program we use presently, for schooling at home, spends a lot of time on GUM- grammar, usage, and mechanics.  Yes, I'm pleased!  I find that as the children get older, K12's curriculum includes application of Grammar, Usage and Mechanics in more subjects than just "Grammar".  Another pro of the program.  :-)  Repetition!  They really will not retain a lesson if they don't use it.
So, that being said, I have found that some parts of grammar has been difficult for the students to grasp.  Particularily verbs.  So, we spent last week's morning group lessons to work on some "Super Sentences".  My hope would be that it would be short and sweet...the 1st morning morning took quite a bit longer than expected.  Probably because we had to go through every component and refresh memories of what they meant.   The remainder of the  groups ended up much more "short and sweet".  :-)  So, recap...I have 1st-4th graders who are working on Grammar.   Some of it is beyond the 1st grader, but he'll get what he can and it'll be a good foundation for him for when he formally works on the specific components of grammar.   Presently he's worked on types of sentences, punctuation, common and proper nouns. 
I created simple posters to go with every aspect they have learned in Grammar up to this date. 
(I'm disgusted at the quality of the images here.  My apologies ahead of time.  At least it will give you an idea of what the posters look like. This has happened before I haven't found a solution any suggestions for me?  I upload an image and it uploads just fine and dandy...clear, then I put it into the blog post and it turns blurry.  I don't like having  to take photos of laminated pages...never turn out well.  :-)  Either they are blurry, like above, because I didn't use flash, or I use flash and they are nice and clear except for the big glare in the center of the pictures.  LOL  I'm going to leave these pics up though, in case anyone has a suggestion for me.  I have tried making sure they were high quality in Adobe...doesn't make a difference.)
* Complete Sentences-including subject/predicate
.pdf distorted slightly, as usual.  Prints fine though.  Not quite sure why this one changed the color of the left poster.  It's still correct in the original file???  If someone has a suggestion for me on how to change this, I'll try it! 
*  4 Types of Sentences (using 1st grade - 4th grade language)/ Punctuation
*  Nouns (types of nouns, simple/compound, singular/plural, direct objects)
* Verbs (action, being, helping verbs, 4 principals parts, irregular)
We'll use these as a reference throughout the year.  Makes it easier than trying to find the correct portion of the student book or teacher guide when we need a quick reference for our activities.
Morning Group:
I wrote words to create a sentence, out of order, without capital letters and punctuation, on the dry erase board . They created their own sentence out of the words and then we went through the posters, touching on each of the topics.  Is it a complete sentence?  What makes it a complete sentence?, etc

Feel free to download the posters here if they would be helpful to you.  :-)  I plan on creating more as we go along.  Pronouns are our next thing on the agenda.  Perhaps I'll bind them or put them on a ring, I forsee them being very useful!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Math Vocabulary Turkeys

The children are doing quite a bit right now with story problems in math.  I'm finding that they don't always pick up on the "clues" for which operation to use.  This was meant to be a quick activity to review some of the vocab that goes with the various operations (+, -, x, /, =).  Some of the children took it a step further and created a scene using the paper-cut technique. 
4th grader                              1st grader
3 years old :-) 
3rd grader                            2nd grader
 There is one project missing from these pictures.  C's-2nd grader.  He had a rough week last week and it was hard for him to get and stay he hasn't completed his yet.  He seems better today (Sunday), eczema seems like it's back under control and his attitude changes accordingly.  :-)  One benefits of having at home is that I can be a bit flexible with what's on his schedule.  Last year, some of his tests scores came back interesting.  The teacher knew that he was capable of certain things but the test score said differently and that is what she had to document.  We keep in mind here that when he's broken out (eczema) it's 10x's worse inside of his body than it shows on the outside.  No wonder he gets grumpy.  We try to help him learn to deal with it, because he can't use it as an excuse for poor behavior...but it's nice to have some flexibility with him that MVCA is offering.
Turkey template can be found at All Kids Network.  This time I printed a copy onto brown cardstock for each child.  Then they had their body already and used their feather as their tracer.  Worked out nicely.  :-)
Math Vocabulary:
Here's a link to get your started on what terms to use...SparkleBox Mathematical Vocabulary Posters...children chose a feather to put an operation symbol on and then added the vocabulary accordingly.