Saturday, December 31, 2011

School starts back up on Monday!

I can't wait! The Red Ranger I'm sure can...too bad...its back to schoolwork we go.

We have a new tablet now to start using with our schoolwork and we've just lined up a history Skype-ing series with friends of ours for probably March on the Oregon Trail.
Lots of new stuff from Christmas to add to our homeschool, some that The Red Ranger doesn't even realize are school things.....shhhhhhh, don't you dare tell him!
This weekend I'm working on getting things ready for Monday morning...its my New Year's thing to do instead of drinking....I'm such a party animal.....:-)

Hope everyone is well, have a safe and Happy New Year!

Trying to get back on track since the rollercoaster slipped the tracks...

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Trying to get back on track since the rollercoaster slipped the tracks...
I'm trying to clean up the blog and get back to posting after a hectic, trying couple of months.
I'm hoping that the new year will bring some peace, tranquilty, stability, sanity to us.

We hope that your Christmas and New Year's were wonderful and magical, we did manage to have quite a bit of fun finally! I've got the contests to work on and reviews as's hoping 2012 is less hectic and less drama-filled!
I've added to the "Reading" page already and will get the other updates done this week.

Have a wonderful, wonderful 2012!!!

Friday, September 2, 2011

MathBlaster Review and Giveaway!!

Its September and I have a few giveaways lined up this month while doing some reviews!
Feel free to spread the word about any or all of them as they come along!
First up has been a long time kept getting in the way of doing this review but here it finally is:

MathBlaster, from the makers of JumpStart!!

MathBlaster launched this past winter 2011 and we have been enjoying it since spring.
Basically, your child/children become cadets in a space station training, rescuing and saving little critters and the station itself. All while reinforcing their math skills in fast-paced games that require fast answers in order to achieve scores and win races.
Here are some of The Red Rangers favorites - in order:
1) Monster Morph Lab - Excellent for measuring and completing tasks with checklist. Reinforces memory skills. Once you collect the ingredients around the station you make a morph which you then use on your fellow cadets while running around the station, basically "tag, your it" but you don't actually have to chase after them. The Red Ranger just loves changing, sorry morphing, the other players!

The music even reminds me of "Munsters" tv

2) Galaxy Grand Prix - A race course where you play, build and run races against fellow cadets.
He loves it because its so can barely move on the track without crashing into a wall!

3) Zapper Turret Training - Finally...Math Problems!
The training pod will remind you of Millennium Falcon. You or your child chooses adding/subtraction/combo of +/-, multiplication, division, or a combo of both. Then you choose easy/medium/hard and there are five choices for sums. The math problem is displayed and your student must shoot the correct answer. What's great about it, as with several of the other games, is that it tests your child quickly in the facts in order to progress through the game.

4) B-Force Blaster - Target Practice for points. The Red Ranger loves it because it gives high scores.

He also loves the "Red Alert" siren that goes off where cadets race to one of the turrets to save the station from enemy spacecraft.

There are three other areas that we use for our math studies.
* Hyperblast Training - Cadets race through space tunnels in a vehicle shooting for points, then at certain intervals (I believe there are three creatures) they come upon a many tentacled creature with math problems, you have to solve the problems in order to proceed speeding through the space tube tunnels. This game has the same math choices as the above mentioned Zapper Turret Training.

* Alien Wrangler - Is an Alien Bronco. Your cadet must rapidly answer math problems to stay on the creatures back. It offers the same math choices as Zapper Turret Training and Hyperblast Training.

* The Job Board - Is in the first area cadets enter. It offers many choices in math such as place value, money, fractions and geometric shapes on a conveyor belt, an ooze pit with platforms, rollerball alley and other tasks all while solving the math problems.

There are training areas and they even have to capture little critters (they truly remind me of Tribbles from Star Trek!) that are around the station and place them back into their container.
There's also parental controls for talking with other players with pre-determined phrases.

We have discovered its nice option to our math studies.
We orginally started with the free version after reading about and seeing commercials for the product. Then we were contacted by MathBlaster to do a review of the membership level. Membership not only gives you access to all the cool features above but also gives you secondary membership to the JumpStart Website. You also can have up to 6 children in your home under the one membership, which is a huge plus and each child gets to create their own avatar. The age level is 6-12 years of age.

Now, here's the membership info:
For up to 6 children its either $7.99 monthly, $74.99 Annually or for Lifetime membership $149.99.

However, MathBlaster has given me the chance to giveaway to one of my readers a FREE 3 month full membership!
Here's how you can enter: (For each one please come back and comment so that you can be credited)
1) 1 entry by following my blog.
2) 1 entry by reposting or Tweeting this post.
3) 1 entry per friend if they "follow" me, be sure they mention your name!

Entries close on Saturday, September 17, 2011 and a winner will be chosen by on Sunday, September 18, 2011.
(Please note that the ending date for this giveaway has been extended 9/17/2011)

Meanwhile you can try the FREE version here: 

**DISCLAIMER** ~ I was provided with a membership good for Math Blaster and Knowledge Adventure at no cost by Knowledge Adventure in order to test the products’ abilities and give my own personal opinions on it. The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but were not influenced by the company or the free product provided.

We've linked up with other Hip Homeschool Moms, they too are hosting give-aways.
Go check them out!! Hip Homeschool Moms

Join the No Ordinary Blog Hop

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Vocabulary/Spelling City...

One of my favorite sites asked for reviewers of their premium membership for my honest review of their site. Hopefully, I won't be too biased about it, you see we've used the free membership for about two years now when it was just Spelling City...I still have a hard time calling it Vocabulary/Spelling City!! In fact this is the same company that sent me 5 vendor hall passes for the ISTE this past July in Philadelphia and I was quite happy to forward two of those passes onto a fellow homeschooler.

So, yes......I (we) love Spelling City but son, yeah my son....hasn't had the chance yet to use the vocabulary part of the site. I'm.....ahhhhhh.....HE's quite anxious to try it out since playing a bit with it at the ISTE convention.
We, yes we, can't wait to try everything out now. My disclosure is below and this review will be coming up in three weeks.
Meanwhile, you can try the Spelling City functions for free to see if you might be interested in winning a Premium Membership later.
Oh....and its not just for homeschoolers by the way. There are a lot of school spelling lists and you can easily add your child's spelling list from your homeschool or public school to give the kids a different and fun way of learning and testing themselves. The link for their site is below the disclosure information.


I've been given a premium membership to for  a candid, personal, online review. helps students study word lists using 25  different learning activities such as MatchIt Sentences, HangMouse,  and Word-O-Rama.  Parents can create their own spelling lists, find published lists already available on the  site, or use any of dozens of  free  teaching resources on topics such as analogies and compound words.  Be sure to come back in three weeks to  read about my experience.
There might be more  free memberships available for bloggers.  If you're interested, find out  how you can review

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Best laid plans.....HAH!

Life is what happens when you are busy making plans....

Oh, so true!
Today was going to be all about telling and sharing pictures of our first two days of 3rd grade with you...Ahem, WAS going to be...
Instead, a virus wiped out my laptop - along with ALL of the lessons I JUST got organized -

We do have the next two days off, because DH is off from work and we will pick things back up on Friday. By then I hope to have some of the stuff back that I need and I'll share the next installment of the "Not Back to School Hop", which is a peek inside our classroom. I can however still do the MathBlaster review and giveaway because I need DH computer anyway for that. So, check back tomorrow or Thursday for that.

Right  now, I'm going to go kick "Life" in the butt.....

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Curriculum Week 2011 - Not Back To School Blog Hop

Its time for a new homeschool year, we are actually starting this coming Monday, August 8th. Its also time for the Not Back To School Blog Hop from Heart of the Matter Online.

Week 1 is Curriculum week and here is what we've chosen this year for third grade for our son.

Base Comprehensive Curriculum - Learn at Home, grade 3 and Flashkids grade 3 (from B&N).
Math - Math U See Foundations (finishing up) into Gamma series. And MathBlaster Website.
Grammar - Finishing Easy Grammar Daily Guided for 2nd/3rd Grades, then starting Easy Grammar and Daily Grams 3rd and 4th Grade.
History - Story of the World - all volumes with Activity Guides, calendar/holiday led and Historical Timeline.
Reading - Finishing McGuffey's 1st Reader to be followed with McGuffey's 2nd Reader. Also, Thomas Jefferson Education Classics (TJED) and Learn at Home weekly curriculum reading (LAH).
Spelling - McGuffey's Reader's and Vocabulary/Spelling City Website.
Vocabulary - Seasonal/Monthly and LAH.
Geography - USA and World/Country studies through various sources. 
 Science - LAH and Supercharged Science website.

**For some FREE online science lessons you can use this link:
401 Science Activity Manual and Video Collection ($30 value)

***Or you can order the whole thing from this link:

We started both Math U See and Easy Grammar programs recently and found that they really work beautifully with the LAH and Flashkids base curriculum's. The Red Ranger also wants to learn cursive writing so we have a couple of books to start using to see how it all goes. We also have lots of supplemental materials to work with but that's for another week's blog.
I'll also be adding more on both the Mathblaster website, including a giveaway and Vocabulary/Spelling City.
Both sites offer free content for you and your children to try out. If you are interested then I'll be having that giveaway for Mathblaster, which is a full 3 month subscription coming up soon.

Next week is School Room Week in the blog hop. Have a look and join in.

I have a few pictures to share but we still are waiting on a couple of books to be delivered so here is what we have so far.

Learn At Home Series Week 1 - All Subjects

Join the blog hop! 
Not Back to School Blog Hop

Monday, July 18, 2011

Revamping for a new year....

Again, things have been crazy. At some point I'll get this homeschooling and blogging thingy working together.....Right???
Right now I'm writing reviews for a couple of giveaways and re-doing our workbox/hanging folder system so that I can give more detailed posts on them. I'm also getting all of our 3rd grade materials together, why is it so time consuming?
Please come back and check.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Vidcasts from MIT - 150 Symposium Earth, Air, Ocean and Space: The Future of Exploration

MIT150 Symposium

Earth, Air, Ocean and Space: The Future of Exploration

A friend of mine from MIT posted on Facebook today about these video podcasts and I'm passing on some of the information so that you can view it.
Right now is a Spacevidcast with Astronauts including Buzz Aldrin here's the line up for the first one:

Here's the panel: 
* Buzz Aldrin ScD '63 - Gemini 12, Apollo 11
* Timothy J. (TJ) Creamer SM '92, Soyuz TMA-17, Expedition 22/23 
* Terry J. Hart SM '69 - STS 41-C
* Frederick H. (Rick) Hauck SM '66 - STS-7, STS-51-A, STS-26
* Byron Lichtenberg SM '75, ScD '79 - STS-9, STS-45
* Michael J. Massimino SM '88, ENG '90, ME '90, PhD '92 - STS-109, STS-125. 

Here's the link for watching it live right now
I'll post the link once they have it up for watching after the live feed later, so be sure to check back. 

The next will be on "The Future of Nuclear Fuel". Timely indeed.....

The following link will take you to the information page and you can also check the "agenda" tab for the future podcasts.   

You might want to also check out MIT's 150th main site for lots more to use for homeschooling:  

And for history check this link:

Remember to check back for the archived videos later.

Check out what other bloggers are writing about at:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Very Hungry Caterpillar read online only in April

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is this month's read aloud (April 2011) at Barnes and Nobles online site.
Read by Eric Carle which is the extra special treat.

Here's the link...enjoy...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Free live science tele-class TODAY given by a real rocket scientist!

We did this last time and got hooked. Usually she gives away free science kits, DVD's and almost always gives you a month of access to the online science lessons for only $1 during the teleclass (normally it costs $37 a month). Once you try the classes out - online - you might just want to keep going with them for awhile. Its one of the things I just started splurging on for homeschooling. Nothing like a real rocket scientist giving your kid science lessons!

Tele-class starts at 3pm Eastern time USA....we'll be there!

Subject: In Case You Forgot,It Happens in 4 Hours
In case you forgot, Aurora’s live hands-on science video tele-class will be starting in just a few hours.
(Great science lesson for this week)
In this free video tele-class she’ll show us how  to make microscopes and telescopes.  Not to mention giving us the scoop on seeing this month’s meteor shower.
Pretty cool.
You can still register at:
I know that last time she did one of these the tele-class was maxxed out (over 3,700 people wanted to participate, but they only had 3000 spots available online). 
I don’t know how close they are to their limit right now, but if you want to be sure to avoid getting shut out, you can still register now with the link above.
See you in a few hours!
P.S. Grab a spot by registering at: 

Go check out what others are blogging about at 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Two propellers and a gear-pulley....

We had an interesting packet delivered to us this weekend containing two plastic propellers and a gear-pulley.

Okay, this might seem strange to some but when you are a homeschooling family...well its like the Forrest Gump box of chocolates isn't it? You never know what you're gonna get!
I had previously posted how we had joined up with an online science program, we've just haven't had the time to really begin doing the lessons because of stress and life getting in the way. Seems like someone noticed and wanted to spark up some we get two propellers and a gear-pulley......

Encouragement received and looks like it time for some science seems these items are sometimes hard to find but we need them for three different projects.
The Hovercraft project, the Jigglebot Robotics project (Yeah, I know....I can't wait to try that one either, Jigglebot!) and the Laser Light Show.
I'll be sure to post our experiments so you can see how much fun we have doing them. If you are interested in some of the free science lessons they offer you can read more about them in my previous posting.

So nice to get something in the mail that wasn't a bill!

Go check out what others are blogging about at

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Mini-books for preschool and kindergarten......

I was just wandering around reading a couple of blogs and saw a post on one (Confessions of a Homeschooler) about mini-books for pre-schoolers. I left info in the comments section and thought I would share today, since I haven't posted in weeks, the site that helped us when we suddenly became homeschoolers.

Before our son started kindergarten I had found online DLTK, a wonderful resource site for all things that I needed before he started school and then big time when we pulled him out of kindergarten. I used just about everything on the site and the sister sites, Kidzone ws , Coloring ws and the other sites related to DLTK (all of the links are on their site).
The Red Ranger(TRR) practiced writing his letters, numbers, shapes, etc. Once you expore the sites you'll see why I can't name everything but if you have preschoolers and/or kindergarten children you'll see lots to use.

Since the other blog (one of my go-to blogs by the way!) posted about the mini-books I thought I would share what we did when we used the mini-books off of DLTK'S site.
We started off with the AlphaBuddies books for each letter of the alphabet and The Red Ranger(TRR) loved them.
When you print the books you can either print in color or b&w, we always choose b&w so TRR could also practice his coloring skills. At first he cut the pages and we stapled them together, but we didn't like the unfinished look they had so TRR folded the pages in half, once they were printed out, put all the pages in order, stapled them down the middle and then we made the last page a pocket to hold another mini-mini-book (we'll get to that in a bit). We used each book every month as we did a letter a day with our other resources, each time doing something different and adding other activities as we progressed through phonics. Once he had mastered the reading portion and had finished the coloring we started doing sounds with the books. When we did the letter "A" one time he cut out pictures, used stamps or drew pictures of the beginning sound, which we then pasted (another skill!) into the inside front cover of his "A" book. Next time around it was ending sounds again pasting the pictures or stamping on the inside back cover. For middle sounds we used a separate piece of paper which then fit inside that back pocket we had made.

The back pocket also stored our brainstorming lists of other words around the house that began with the same letter, we would just walk around and he had to find other items to add to his list, many a day he had a list ready in head anyway even though he never knew which letter we would be working on ahead of time. Part of what we did first thing was pick out of a pile a letter and number for each day and then we built the day's learning around each one.
We also included in the pocket the mini-mini-book for all of the consonants which were called Itsy Bitsy Books , these I printed on blue paper (The Alphabuddies books were all on white paper for coloring) just to identify them in a pile of schoolwork to be done.

As for the other mini-books we used just about all of them - holidays and seasons came in very handy. Bible stories and riddles were popular as were the general ones. There is also a very cool option to make your own custom books with your child's name and other information printed out. This way they can have their very own book about themselves. You can even use some of the books for 1st and 2nd graders.

Every now and then when TRR gets a chance he pulls out some of the books just to read through again, he must have enjoyed them because he always tells me about the work 'we' put into them!!
I guess working on the books with mommy was a cherished of the perks of homeschooling!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Free Science Experiments

A few months ago I got a link for science experiments, we tried a couple and liked them but didn't for some reason keep going back to do more. Then last month we did one of the online classes for a rocket launch experiment with over 3000 other families...we became hooked. When our son found out that the woman on the other end was really....for sure....a for real.....ROCKET SCIENTIST....he was psyched!
And so were we.
We then signed up for a month of lessons, there are over 600 to choose from. If you are worried about teaching science to your children then this is a great way to get a science curriculum that you don't even have to teach.
So, now that we are hooked I've signed up as an affiliate with them and that means I get to pass out free science links to the lessons!!
I have two links to pass out today:

1) Your kids build a miniature hovercraft out of an old CD and a water bottle - it's pretty cool.
 Here's the link to it:
2) 30 complete experiments (normally costs $25) and it includes a free newsletter that gives you another free science experiment weekly in your email box. 
400 Science Experiment Guide 

The lessons are free...completely....they always give you the option of joining but you don't have too.
We didn't for months and then did the live-teleclass and got hooked, the kid was excited and mom and dad were just as excited, maybe more so...
Even if you aren't looking for a curriculum they are just plain cool to try out at home.
Feel free to pass them on as well.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

My Review of Hot Dots,#174; Refills Set

Originally submitted at Learning Resources

Bring ordinary worksheets to life with fun lights and sound effects! 
Transforms existing worksheets into interactive electronic activities when used with Talking Hot Dots® Pen (EI-2770, available separately).
Includes 450 self-adhesive, conductive ink dots (150 for correct answers, 300 for negatives)

Versatile product - Love it...
By stargazerusa from Blackwood, NJ on 3/3/2011
5out of 5
Pros: Durable, Educational, Lots of Fun, Engaging, Interactive, Adaptable
Best Uses: Travel, Older Children, Special Needs, Young Children, Entertainment, Indoor
Describe Yourself: Homeschooling Teacher, Education Oriented, Stay At Home Parent
Was this a gift?: No
We love using the refill dots for our own flash cards and tests. Since money is always tight at home and in schools I reuse what I can wherever I can. I use the cardboard given in kids meals from fast food restaurants, the kind when collector cards are part of the toy, to make the pieces for the multiple choice dots.
I cut the cards in half and in quarters, wrap them in tissue/construction/wrapping paper and add one positive and the 3 negative dots. Then I attach small pieces of velcro to the back to be used on our made up flash cards. The half size ones get used on 5x8" cards and the quarters on 3x5" ones. This way the wrapped pieces with the dots can be turned and used over and over on different cards and if you are careful on placement of your answer selections you are able to change where the green hot dot is placed so kids aren't always sure where the "right" answer is located.
Its one of my favorite tools!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Questions asked, answered and no wonder....

Yesterday was a good day, it always amazes me how "good days" just sort of pop up on their own on what's supposed to be an ordinary day. It was Groundhog's Day and I had everything planned out, so I'm not sure how we didn't get to all of it.....but I have an idea :-)

First of all I've come to realize why our son thinks I have the answer to everything and is shocked if I don't "know" something right away. Most of the time the answers are there somewhere in the cobwebs of my mind, they just need to dusted off and brought out to the light. Every now and then though our son comes up with something that as he says, "I didn't that coming".
Yesterday it started simple enough, I simply made him a cup of hot chocolate. Come on, take a guess.....
Yep, it led to The Red Ranger asking me who invented hot chocolate.
Somehow the file cabinets of my mind didn't have that answer saved.
So, as any good mom and most especially a homeschooling mom would do.......
We looked it up!
There were a few steps to the answer.......are you curious?

It started with the Aztecs only they served it cold and used cocoa beans as currency. They also flavored it with wine and chili peppers (wine = good, chili peppers = yuck!).
Cortez brought it back to Europe in the early 1500's and Spain changed it to a hot drink, sweetened and without the peppers (Yay...Spain!).
When it came to London in the 1700's the British started adding milk to it and enjoyed it as an after-dinner beverage. 
Our short answer was that it wasn't a person that invented hot chocolate but a country, Spain.
Then we went on to look at the cocoa beans themselves and the process of how we get that powder in the cup. Which then led to how its put into trucks and delivered to stores.....etc., etc., etc!
If you are so inclined to read is the link for The History of Hot Chocolate .

Okay, admit just made yourself a cup of hot chocolate didn't you??
If you didn't....what are you waiting for?? Go get a cup and come back to hear about our Groundhog Day stuff.........

We started off our day changing everything over for the month.
All of our calendar work which included adding all the special days this month including Groundhog Day.
We did our History Scribe holiday sheet which gives you a blurb about the holiday, a space for a drawing and journal practice. We then checked online to see what that pesky little groundhog had to say.
In case you didn't hear.....spring is coming early.......hmmmm....I'm looking out the window at all of the snow and thinking he may just be wrong about that one!
We then continued online with lots of stories, poems and shadow puppets on the wall. Our shadow puppets sort of took over the rest of the Groundhog Day stuff I had planned......we just couldn't stop making more and more of them. I also discovered that The Red Ranger loved the Robert Louis Stevenson poem, "My Shadow". I mean LOVED I'm looking into more Stevenson works for him.
Since we didn't finish all of the material we'll just use it during the week as fun stuff.
We also did our spelling introducing the match game cards I made up and we also went over all of our February vocabulary words and used some of them in the vocabulary match game that I also made. Both of these will now be added to our Scrambler Wheel for the month.
We spun the Scrambler Wheel for math as well and it landed on Dominoes and then...................

We had tears.................................
And a 5 minute break using the microwave timer.............................
When The Red Ranger came back (on his own after he heard the ding of the microwave) he was still teary and it took me a bit to find out what was bothering him. He said he hated math because it was too hard.
Not sure where this came from because he's great at math, it comes easily to him. I told him how proud I am of how well he does in math and that sometimes he surprises me with how well he does. The tears finally stopped and we got back to the dominoes and he was fine.
All I can think of is that he was doubting himself and needed to know that he was good at math or that he just didn't want to do math yesterday.....LOL!
In the end we picked three tiles at a time and used each side of the tile as a digit in a larger number and then made up our problems. He really didn't want to do the "big" number problems but I showed him that he does know how to break the problem down to get to the answer. In some cases we used the tiles for 3 and 4 digit numbers, we try to change it up as we go and it helps that he has to write the problems on the chalkboard or his dry erase board.
We also did our reading with our two books we have going at the moment and of course our weather work.
Can't forget the weather work! Since it was also the beginning of the month we took our January weather calendar and graphed the amount of sunny, cloudy, rainy, snowy days and how many days we had temperatures in the teen's, 20's, 30's, etc. and how some days the wind chill bring those temperatures down even lower....sometimes into single digit numbers!!
Where's my hot chocolate??!!

For the match game spelling and vocabulary I just cut blank index cards in half and glue construction paper to the back making two's of all of the words.

Join the Hop for February!

Monday, January 24, 2011

HOT DEAL for free - Mighty Book Jr. Website!

 Just got this from a friend on Facebook via another friend...

Animated books for children, story songs, sing-along songs, educational games, puzzles, poetry and activities that help teach kids to read. There are books in English and Spanish books for ESL children, learning English as a second language and books for kids with special needs.
Books can be read to your child or there is a you read selection on some. 

FREE 1 year subscription!
A deal for free 1 yr subscription ($99 reg. price!) for online kids books, songs, lesson plans, etc!! 
Click 'subscribe now' in the top right corner and use code "learntoread" 
You'll love it....thanks Renee!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Rough couple of days.....

Granted we aren't feeling 100% yet but the "get back into the school - groove thing" was NOT working too well the past two days. It really bugged me because I was introducing some new things to give The Red Ranger more control over how he learns so that mom isn't (Ahem) "so bossy"......figured he will get more of a chance to control his own destiny with these ideas but we were butting heads enough that we both needed a couple of 5 minute time-outs in our corners. How do I handle those moments? Simple, I set the microwave timer to 5 minutes and we both don't talk to each other until we hear it go off. Then, we meet back at the table and pick up where we were before we had to re-group. I'm not exactly sure what he does during those 5 minutes (but its a NO tv, game, etc. time) but me.....I hide my face in both hands and do what Drew Barrymore does in the movie Ever After - 'just breathe'............great movie by the way, a version of Cinderella and never talked about enough.
Remember what I said before.....less stress this year!!!

Back to The Red Ranger controlling his own destiny.....
We've had this in place from last year and it was a nice chance of getting an "out" of a particular lesson/worksheet he really just couldn't bear to do. In our folder system which looks like this:
We have what we call a "bump" folder, it goes in the very top pocket when in use (Its actually a Transformers folder!). The idea of the "bump" is simply we come to let's say a math worksheet that he can't bear to do, he is allowed to "bump" one thing per day into the "bump" folder to be done the next school day. The catch is that it must be done before any of the other folders on the next school day we have. He also is allowed to swap the lesson in the folder if during the day he finds something else he wants to do even less than that 'math worksheet' used above, he can take out the math worksheet add the other item to the "bump" folder and the math worksheet then must be done.
Only one thing a day can be bumped.

The new thing I just introduced him too was this -
The only reason we are calling it this is because we are using the spinner from our Twister Scram game for the
This is how it works. For each day that The Red Ranger has a 'good day' he gets a ticket/token to be used in the future. At the moment we are only using it for math, spelling and vocabulary but may expand it if it works out really well. If we happen to be doing a math or spelling lesson that he thinks is "boring" he may use one of his tickets to spin The Twister Scrambler, depending on the color the spinner lands on he plays a math or spelling game instead of the normal lesson in his folder that day.
We broke it down this way:
MATH: Yellow = toss across math, Green = file folder games, Blue = bag math or pizza fraction bingo, Red = dominoes or card games.
SPELLING: Yellow = match game, Green = sandwich game, Blue = scrabble slam card game, Red = letter spell.
Math -
Dominoes and card games are really simple for using for math lessons. Draw so many cards (depending on your child's age) add/subtract/multiply/mix them as is or use each separate card as a digit in a larger problem. He then writes the problems out on his dry erase board and does them.
File folder games are either ones we've made or have picked up along the way and he can choose any of them in the subject to play. Two come to mind right away, "Place Value Picnic" and " Take it to the Bank" both $ store buys.
Bag math is using the bags of manipulatives that have been premade and using those bags for the math problems.
Toss Across Math - I took his Toss Across game and re-purposed it for math by using those clear photo corners from my scrapbook desk and index cards. On the index cards I write numbers that get get placed over the "X" and "O"'s of the game (they can be removed if we go back to playing the Toss Across game), I also place a math symbol at the top so that he knows what problems he's doing or we agree to do 5 of this or that.
Match game is simply a memory game for his 10 spelling words each week, we use Scrabble Slam for spelling his words and also for changing them from one to the other, letter spell is using our regular Scrabble set and any other letters in the house for spelling the weekly words. The sandwich game is using cards that look like bread, meats, lettuce, tomato, cheese, etc. to spell out his words.
For Vocabulary its mainly the match game until I can think of something else. I'm trying to think of a way to use our new Syllable Rally game for vocab., I'll most likely have to make up my own cards each month for it.
We'll be adding more to the rotation as we come across games or make up new ones ourselves. Here are some pictures of some of the games we use.

Now for some pictures of our Morning Meeting boards -

 The stand up pocket easels hold spelling word index cards, numbers/days of the week/special dates for the calendar, consonant/vowel tags and letters index cards.

 For Geography he identifies and colors the US state on a blank map sheet, which will also be updated later with capital cities, birds, flowers, flags, etc. for each state. For the world we are doing continents and oceans, which will then be expanded on with countries within, rivers, etc.

In these two pictures you can just barely make out a green sheet that is a monthly calendar that we record daily weather and temps on for graphing at the end of the month. We also have the cloud identifier and season spinner.
I tell you kids clothes hangers and clothespins really come in handy!

We had today off because Daddy was off from work but back at it its supposed to snow a bit. If you have any questions about anything on the boards feel free to ask away, hopefully when we play the games above I can take some pictures and expand on how they are played.

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Monday, January 3, 2011

Preparing for back to school.....

Hello and welcome to all the new followers!

Tomorrow we begin school again and I thought I would give a preview of what is in store.
I found free lessons for American holidays on CurrClick that will come in handy all through the year.
History Scribe - American Holidays
Each holiday gives you a history blurb on the holiday, a drawing block and a place for journaling (with or without lines). We printed out the one on New Year's and a blank for Christmas memories, it will make a great memory book and also bring history into everyday life for The Red Ranger.

This will come right after our morning meeting work and right before we head over to our folders.
Normally, we have our ABC fitness right before we settle into our morning meeting but since we've been sick and still have coughs we'll skip it. It does come in handy though to get rid of that excess energy before we sit down to work and using the energy bursts through the day keep things focused.
Our morning meeting starts with calendar work, including our weather graphing which he loves and geography, both USA and world, another thing he enjoys so very much. We also go over monthly vocabulary words, any themed unit studies and our books for the week. I'll add pictures of our boards tomorrow but I do have to update a couple sections for new stuff that we will be adding, as they are they may be useful for younger students. Hopefully it will give some ideas to other families just starting out.
I'll show certain area's of our home classroom, which is most of the home by the way, so that you can see how we are set up. Why does it always seem we need more room? We live in a two bedroom apartment so space is always an issue but its possible to use the walls, pocket charts and so on to make a classroom. Granted we can't put it all away or shut the door on it but that's just the way it is.....

We'll see you tomorrow!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Is it time to rethink our year?

This is our second year of homeschooling, full year I should say as we had 1/2 a year of kindergarten as well.
Its also the second year absolutely everything fell apart in Oct/Nov, sickness and so on. We just seem to get so busy really from Halloween on that we don't have time for everything and maybe that's why we keep getting so sick over the holidays. This year again we were down over christmas, I've written more about that in my everyday tab, but frankly I think our schedule needs an adjustment.
Back in September when all of us homeschoolers were talking about the new school year, several mentioned that they didn't start the "new year" of schooling until January. Now, I thought that was a bit strange honestly...I guess I'm still in the "traditional" mode of the school year but now.......after another year of things falling apart over the holidays and schoolwork yet again suffering because of it, maybe just maybe its the way to go.
And since we've hit bumps over these holidays I guess it is just a matter of starting fresh instead of being frustrated over where we should be and aren't. I'm eliminating stress this year in my life so yes I think its for the best.
So, some Tuesday, January 4th we start 2nd grade (again...but shush, this is me being positive!) with a fresh outlook at where we are heading and not where we didn't get too!! I've looked into A Thomas Jefferson Education and like what I'm reading and so I'm going to attend the online conference this week and hear more about it all.
So, what does this means our summer will be from sometime in October to January 1st-ish, which works just fine since a lot of the summer I'm stuck inside the house with my asthma and we homeschool anyway. Normally, I would be upset at this point about it all but I'm trying to find what is important and what is not. I can't do anything about when it seems we get sick, its happened for three maybe even four years now but the past two years have been the worst of all. I'm just a little slow at picking up the rather loud clues about it and to adjust things accordingly. Now I'm listening to whomever has been telling me its not been working the way we have been going and its time for a change. I firmly believe that God and life lead you in the direction you need to be, I'm just not so good at reading the signs sometimes! I'm going with the sickness and hardships over the past few years have been signs for change.
1) We adjust when we do our school year, its so nice to have the option by the way to adjust when we do it all.
2) Perhaps The Thomas Jefferson Education came into our lives at just the right time as well. We'll see how it goes.
3) Less stress, more friends.
4) Enjoy more of what we are doing when we are doing other words enjoy life as it is happening.
5) Explore more of what we want to do in our school work.
6) Less stress...........