Archive for the ‘homeschool’ Category

A new school year

August 15, 2011

We started school today.  Fortunately, we only had two hours of work to do.  Unfortunately, it felt like 10 hours of work.  In reality we were done by 10:30, but it seemed like it should be lunch time.  Lots of screaming and yelling.  Not so much about the work, but attitudes were awful.    I am rather glad that we have tomorrow off.

Yep, you read that right!  We are taking the second day of school off.  It really couldn’t be helped.  When I went to pick a date to start school, about every Tue. had something scheduled.  I realized that waiting an extra month just so that we could get in a full week seemed silly.  I thought about starting mid-week, but ended up deciding not to put it off any longer.

As to only having a couple of hours of work.  I decided that I wanted a head start on a couple of subjects, so we are easing into school this year.  This week school is 8:00am to 10:00am.  Next week school goes till noon.  The third week we will do a full school day.  This also gives me a chance to work out the kinks in the schedule as we go. Part of the reason we went late today is that there was a lot of introductory stuff that won’t normally be there.  That and a few computer glitches.  I tried to have everything set up, but I didn’t quite get it all.  I’m sure that Wed. will go smoother.  (I hope.)  I’m glad that I don’t have to do the introductory stuff for all of the subjects on the same day.  That could make for one looooooong day.


I know that I haven’t posted in forever.  Maybe I will do a bit better this year.  Maybe….




Why I love All About Spelling: A Review

May 4, 2010

Last year when I bought All About Spelling, I planned to use it as a reading program.  It turns out that it has been a great reading program, a great spelling program, and so much more.  Honey is learning Reading, Spelling, Grammar, and Handwriting.  All from one spelling program!

All About Spelling teaches phonics rules.  While the rules are listed as spelling rules, it is not hard to use them as reading rules too.   To help Honey’s reading, I have her read the word cards that come with the program.  I also write out the phrases and sentences that are meant for dictation and have her practice reading those.

For Spelling, she spells all of the words as well as the phrases and sentences.  Sometimes she uses the letter tiles that come with the program to make the words, but often she just writes them.

I know what you are thinking now.  “That’s all good and well for Spelling and Reading, but how can a Spelling program teach handwriting and grammar?”  Actually it is a lot easier than you think.  When we started the first book of All About Spelling, one of the first steps was to have the Honey write the letters as I said the sounds for them.  I would read the sounds that each letter made and she would write them.  I decided that just making the letter wasn’t enough, she had to make the letter correctly.  She would bring her handwriting book to the spelling table and for months she had to look at how to make many of the letters.  But guess what?  She now has the best handwriting of any of my kids.  It was actually this feature that made me decide to use All About Spelling for Kiddo.

At first I was worried that if Kiddo did All About Spelling that she would quickly pass up Honey.  I would hate for that to happen, but honestly Honey wouldn’t care that much.  Then I realized that Kiddo would need lots of practice with the handwriting part of the program.  This will slow her down, and Honey has a year and a half head start on her.  Maybe it will work.

Now for Grammar, how about that?  All About Spelling does not just teach how to spell words, it teaches how to write sentences.  Each lesson has several phrases and several sentences for me to dictate to Honey.  Now Honey knows that sentences begin with a capital and end with a period (or question mark or exclamation mark), but when it comes to actually doing it she often forgets.  We haven’t gotten very far into the program, but at some point I expect the sentences to become more complex and include more grammar.  I may have to fill in the rules, but the chance to use them is inherent in this program.

I have heard that there will soon be an All About Reading, and I wish that I could have used it, but I must say that I am very happy with All About Spelling.

Review of

May 2, 2010

You owe the kids money, but do you remember how much?  Around here we don’t give allowances, but we do pay the kids for all of the candy that they receive.  (Since they can’t eat it anyway do to their allergies, it keeps everyone happy.)  I used to have a sheet of paper on the inside of a cabinet door that kept track of how much each person had.  When they spent some of it I would deduct the amount from the sheet.  Worked pretty well, except for when I forgot. was at the homeschool convention and I had a few questions that I wanted to ask them.  So when I got to their booth, I asked, “How is this better than the sheet that I have on the inside of my cabinet door.”  He rattled through several selling points, but the one that sold me was that the kids entered the money themselves.  I have to approve their transactions, but they have to do it.  The kids were always bringing me candy at weird times and places.  I had gotten to where I said, put it on the counter and I will put it in when I am in the kitchen, but sometimes I would forget.  So this feature sounded really good to me!

We have been using for several weeks now and I have to say that I really like it.  And the thing I like most is not that the kids are responsible for entering their own money.  No, the best part is the budgeting feature.  The kids can set goals for what they want to do with their money and the computer tracks how close to their goal they are.  It really helps them to see where their money is going.  When it is all in one big account, they would say, “I have $5, I can buy the thing that I want.”  They would forget about the other things that they also wanted to do with their money.  Right now, Dearie has several goals set including: college, charity, Mom’s birthday, Father’s day, a book she wants, and end of year gifts for her teachers (AWANA and Sunday School).  Honey and Kiddo have goals set for college, church, Father’s day and Mom’s Birthday.  No waiting until the last minute to see if they have enough money to buy whatever it is that they want!

So check out  It really is a cool tool for teaching money management.

The Way They Think

April 30, 2010

Kiddo has a phonics workbook (Explode the Code) that asks her to read silly sentences and answer yes or no.  The point is to see if they can read the sentences, but I really have no idea how a classroom teacher could grade these.  I mean, there was one that said, “Can a deaf person hear you scream?”  Kiddo marked yes of course because we have a friend who is deaf and has cochlear implants and can definitely hear the kids scream.

The one she did yesterday said this: “If your full glass is bottomless will you ever get thirsty?”  Kiddo marked yes so I asked her why.  She said, “If I am not close to the glass I will get thirsty.”  Later that day I asked Dearie the same question and she said, “Yes, if it is bottomless then all the water would run out.”  When I asked Honey the question she said, “No, I would just slurp up the water from the table.”    Sometimes I feel like I should tell them not to think so hard!

Public Service Announcement (PSA)

April 19, 2010

If you teach your 6yo to do laundry.

…And said 6yo knows how to read.

…And you buy said 6yo new clothes.

Be prepared for her to read the care labels on EVERY piece of new clothing and ask multiple questions about each one.

Be prepared to explain that in this case, “Hand Wash” means that it CAN go in the washer, but that she doesn’t HAVE to put it in the dryer.

Just thought you should know in case you teach your 6yo how to do laundry.

Oh No! She doesn’t want to do a DVD math program.

April 3, 2010

I had math for Dearie all mapped out.  She would finish Singapore through 6B and then go into Video Text Math.  Seemed like a solid plan and it is what I have been planning for the last year.  Dearie has other ideas.

She told me yesterday that she really would rather have a workbook/textbook combo like she has now.  She doesn’t want to have to watch a DVD.  So now what do I do?

I have known for a while that she wasn’t thrilled with the idea of doing Video Text, but I thought it was just the unknown (and maybe it is).  We had a good discussion about it yesterday and it seems more that she just doesn’t want to change what is working.  So now I am back to looking at Algebra Programs.  I am looking, but I know which one I will go with.  She will stay with Singapore.

The problem that I have with Singapore is that it is really challenging stuff and the teacher’s guides are not that great.  Everyone says that you have to be a math person in order to be able to teach it.  I am a math person, but I am finding that I learned HOW to do a lot of stuff without learning the WHY behind it.  I got stuck when teaching a lesson on percents last week.  Now this was at the end of the percent unit and it is a difficult concept, but if I am messing up now how will I be able to teach the harder stuff?  I talked to Dearie about it.  She didn’t like that I messed up the lesson, but we did work together and I did figure out my mistake and now we both understand the concept better than we would have otherwise.  I told her that if we stick with the workbook/textbook combo that we would have more times like this.  She said that she didn’t like that.  On the other hand, it is good for us to be able to make mistakes and learn how to learn from them. 

The up side to staying with Singapore Math?  I think that it will motivate Dearie a bit more.  It seems to me that she has been “stalling” a bit at math.  It’s like she doesn’t want to finish her book.  If she has been dreading moving into Video Text, that would make sense.  By staying with Singapore, she might go back to her regular pace.  Oh, and one other thing: Singapore Math cost about $200 a year less than Video Text Math per year.  I’m sure that we can find a better way to spend $200. 🙂

More thoughts on math.

February 9, 2010

After my last post about the way that Kiddo and Dearie do math, I thought a lot about the way Honey’s math works.  Honey is using Right Start mathematics.  It is a program based on Asian Math and really focuses on teaching the kids to THINK.  It is very similar to Singapore Math in the way that numbers are taken apart and put back together.  I really like that part.

Right Start Mathematics is very teacher-intensive.  The teacher has to teach every lesson, and there does not seem to be much that the child can do without the teacher.  (There are some worksheets and some practice sheets, but some of them require the teacher to read directions to the child as there are only blanks on the paper.)  I don’t mind the teacher involvement.

Everything about Right Start mathematics is laid out with exactly what to do each day.  This is the problem that I have with Right Start. 

There is a warm-up section to start each day.  I really looked at how the warm-up works, and they do cover most topics, but there is no customizing it for your child.  If they have been able to count by threes since they were 2, it is still listed in the book.  (The helpful people at Right Start will tell you to skip stuff that they know.  You don’t have to do all the warm-ups.)  The problem that I have been having is that Honey will do the warm-up problems, but it could take us 1/2 an hour just to get through them.  She needs practice with some of the concepts more often than is scheduled.

The next section is the activities section.  This is the meat of the program, and it is really good.  The only problem that I have with this section is that if you already know the material or if you catch on quickly, it is hard to move forward.  It is also very difficult to play “catch-up” if you miss a day or two.

The final section is the games section.  This is the drill that is built into the program.  You might play math war or a memory game to help learn those math facts.  I like this part of the program, but if you have already spent 30-45 min. on the warm-up and lesson, then you might be tempted to just skip it. 

So once again, I am out to tweak things.  I can never leave well enough alone, can I?  (This must be why I like Singapore and Miquion so well, I don’t have to tweak anything.)  I have decided to customize the warm-up section of the program.  I wrote out all of the warm-up problems (for 10 lessons) on note cards.  We will do one problem from the first few cards each day.  Then we will add in new cards when needed.  I think that I will use a timer for a while and keep the warm-up time to 5  min.  Then we will work on the activity section for 10-15 and that will leave 10-15 min. for game time.  I am going to look at each section as independent of the others.  If she ‘gets’ what we are doing, then we will go on to the activity section of the next lesson.  If she is having trouble, then we can stay with that topic until she does ‘get’ it.  We will do the same for the games.  Not every lesson has games listed, but some have several games listed.  We will play the games for the amount of time that we have.  I am not going to try to keep the warm-up/activities/games on the same lesson.  This fits my way of thinking, and I don’t think that it will bother Honey at all.  If I do it right, then she won’t even know what I have done.  They say that a program has to fit both the teacher and the child.  This is so true.  We have found several programs that work for me that don’t work for Honey.  We have also found several programs that work for Honey but not for me.  It is the “do ABC on day 1 and DEF on day 2…’ that really bugs me.  I don’t know why, but it does.  I guess that it is a good thing to have figured out about me, it will help me in future purchases.

A new reading game

February 7, 2010

For reading right now, Honey is using a spelling program.  I know it sounds weird, but All About Spelling does a great job of teaching the phonics rules.  I have Honey read the spelling words as well as spell them and her reading is really improving.  I would guess that she is getting close to grade level in reading. 

Honey finished All About Spelling level 1 at the end of January.  I gave her a week off from spelling and we have been playing spelling games during that week.  She came up with a really fun one on Thurs.  We used an old cribbage board and the stack of cards with spelling words on them that came with All About Spelling.  Each turn one of us would pick a card and read the word.  Then we had to say all the sounds in the word.  The other person would count how many sounds the word had and that would determine how many moves could be made.  [Hat has three sounds, move three spaces.   Trash has four sounds, move four spaces.]  To make the game more interesting we also used the middle track on the cribbage board.  If a player’s piece landed next to a line then they would move the middle piece one space forward.  If a player wanted to they could move the middle piece instead of their own piece.  If the middle piece landed next to a line then the player gets to move their own piece five places.  I know that it sounds complicated, but it really made the game a lot more interesting.  I also know that saying the sounds of words does not sound like it would help much, but it is something that is hard for Honey. 

After the game, Honey read to me from the new reader that we got from All About Spelling.  Sounding out the words seemed more natural after we had just spent so much time practicing it during the game.  This is a game that we WILL be playing again!

Another math book finished.

February 6, 2010

With three kids using a great variety of workbooks (some of which are only supposed to last a few months), and when each of those kids finishes each book much faster than the predicted amount of time, it seems that a book gets finished every other week around here.

We make a point to celebrate the completion of each book, and we had another celebration today.  Kiddo finished her math book!  She was pretty excited about it.  Excited enough to do about 3 days worth of math today, just so that she could finish.  I suppose that I didn’t help when I told her that she would have to start her new book a week from Mon. and the sooner she finished this one the longer her break would be.  She wants a looooooong break, so she was willing to work a little harder today to get it.  Maybe I will dig out the challenge math book for her to look at while she is “On Break.”  Dearie always liked that book. 

Sometimes people ask me if it is easy to “work ahead.”  I really have a hard time with that question.  My kids don’t really “work ahead” because they are not following anyone’s schedule but their own.  For math, we work 10-30 min. a day (Kiddo less than Dearie) and do as much as they can in that amount of time.  (Honey is using a different kind of program.  She tends to do one lesson a day.)  If it is review, then they may do three times as much as if it is a new difficult subject.  Is Kiddo ahead in math?  Yes, I suppose that anyway that you could find to compare her to public schooled kids, she would come out ahead.  But if I compare her to where I know that she could be with intense practice, then she is behind.   So my answer to the “work ahead” question is “Work ahead of who?”  Kiddo is right where she should be for her in math.

A new way to do math!

November 19, 2009

Did you know that if you type a math problem into google (like 7+8 or 34 X 4) it will give you the answer. 

 My kids know it.  They learned it from another homeschooling friend.  Honey asked me if I e-mailed her friends mom, and I admited that I did.  She said that was good, poor Honey was afraid that her friend wouldn’t learn any math if she kept doing this.  Did you get that!  Honey was worried about her friend not learning math!  Honey who struggles with math, who will on occasion lie about this or that, did not try to use this for herself, but wanted to help her friend.  I am pretty proud of her for that.

Honey wanted to say Hi!

May 27, 2009


Honey took this picture of herself the other day.  I said, “Hey!  I can put that one on my blog.” 

 (That’s a pine cone that she is holding.)

Life Lessons

May 22, 2009

Some things can’t be learned in school, even in homeschool.  They are learned though experience.  Some that have been learned today…

Nail polish is best put on outside so that Mom doesn’t complain about the smell.

When you put nail polish on your knee, it stings when Mom takes it off.

When you put nail polish on your sister’s face, and she has a scrape near where you put the polish, she will SCREAM when Mom takes it off.

It is best to only put nail polish on nails. 🙂

If you don’t put the wet clothes in the dryer when Mom reminds you to, you might have to stay home from the Dollar Store so that the laundry can get done.

It is best to do your chores when you are told to do them. 🙂

Unloading the dishwasher is more fun if you have help. 🙂



On the school side of things, Kiddo finished her phonics book today.  There are several books left in the series, but she is not going to start another one until fall.  She will work on math all summer, but we will not make a big deal out of it.

Honey is doing well with her new Spelling program.  It goes a long way towards teaching phonics, and I hope that it will help her reading.  She is reading easy books right now, but there is still a lot of challenge in them.  We will keep reading all summer.

Dearie is getting close to finishing up Science and English.  She still has a month or so in each, but the end is in sight.  History is going a bit slower.  I haven’t decided if we should work all summer so that she can finish, or just take a break and pick up where we left off in the fall.  It doesn’t really matter if you learn American History in third, forth, or fifth grade as long as you learn it. 


The girls and I are talking about doing our own ‘Summer Reading Program’ this year.  It has several advantages over the library (or other) program.  The main advantage being that it can be customized to each kid.  Dearie will have to read 100 books of at least 100 pages.  Kiddo will have to read at least 100 books of at least 60 pages.  And Honey will have to read 200-300 book (I haven’t decided yet) with no page limit.  There will be prizes along the way and a big prize at the end.  (Honey really wants a new fish.)   The advantage of counting books over time (the library records time) is that the kids can read whenever they want and just show me the book at the end.  It is harder for them to keep track of time.  I think that it will be a big encouragement to them to read this summer. 

Kiddo is still having a hard time understanding why Honey gets to read “easy” books, but I have told her that each person has to read books that are good for them. I don’t think that she understands, but for now she trusts me on it.

Bad Day.

May 14, 2009

Screaming at the top of her lungs. 

Throwing things.

Kicking things.

Crying over math.

Crying over reading.

Throwing a fit over having to clean up.

Insisting on doing things her own way.

Not getting Science done… again.

Not getting History done… again.

Lots and lots of tears…

(And not all of those things were me today, LOL.)

Just so you know, it would cost less than $16,000 to send them all to the local Christian School.  Looks like a bargain to me.

Can I do Math?

April 16, 2009

Yesterday afternoon Honey came up to me and said, “Can I do math Mom?”  I looked at her and said, “Why?”  I mean, this was Honey after all.  She has NEVER asked to do math before.  Cry, run away, refuse to do it, yes she has done those, but never ask to do math with a smile on her face.  She just asked again, “Can I?”  I said, “No chocolate chips!”  (Yes, I have been known to bribe her to do math, sigh.)  She said, “That’s OK.  Can I?”  I kept pushing and it finally came out.  When she does a test in her math book, (about once ever two weeks if she does a math lesson a day) she gets a prize, and she really wanted her prize.  So I said, “OK”  and she did a lesson before dinner (took her less than ten min.) and did the test after dinner.  She did a total of 3 1/2 lessons and the test yesterday.  (She did a lot during math time too.)   This is how math is supposed to be, easy and fun! 

This is really making me re-think what curriculum to use for next year.  Horizon’s (what she is using now) is back on the table.  Now the section that she is working on now, is doing a lot of “fun” topics: fractions, time, place value, and shapes.  She has not had any drilling of the math facts in this section.  (I’m sure that it will be back.)  I think that this is why she is suddenly interested in math.   It does not mean that I have suddenly changed my mind.  It does mean that I won’t be buying any curriculum for Honey at the homeschool convention.  I will look, I will see what is available, but I won’t buy until she finishes this year and I see how the rest of the year goes.  If I don’t have to switch, I won’t.  Horizon’s is a good program, and I truly believe in not fixing what is not broken.

Go Wide

April 10, 2009

One of the recommendations for gifted children is to “go wide and go deep.”  This means that instead of just going faster through material, to learn more about a topic (go deep) and to learn more about related topics (go wide).  This takes a lot of work for the teacher because most available curricula are not designed for children who can and want to do more.  Some topics are easier to find supplemental work for than others.  Math is one of the harder topics to supplement. 

It hit me last week just how early Dearie could finish the traditional high school curriculum.  She could be done with Calculus 1 by high school, then what?  I think that one of the things that really scared me about this was that I really did not like Calculus.  There are a lot of upper math classes that I really did enjoy, but not Calculus.  I don’t know how Dearie will feel about Calculus, but it seems a shame that it would be her only option. 

Yesterday, I found this article:  called “The Calculus Trap.”   Wow, someone put into words what I was feeling, and they had a solution!  The article explains how advanced children often have no option other than to go ahead to Calculus. This works for regular students because they really don’t have a lot of time to do anything else. But kids who finish algebra and geometry early, have time to study Discreet Mathematics. (I remember this as a fun class in college. They offer several Discrete Mathematics texts that can be used for home-school students. This is a perfect example of going wide. I am feeling a lot better about upper level mathematics for Dearie.

New Math Games

April 8, 2009

Honey is working on subtraction now.  It is not hard for her unless you ask her to write it down.  I “know” that she will willingly do subtraction problems as long as there is no paper and pencil involved, but I don’t really understand it.  So anyway, we are both getting tired of Chutes and Ladders, so we practiced by playing bingo.  I wrote the numbers 1-12 on a grid and you could cover up a number whenever you rolled that number.  (Roll a 12 sided die and a 10 sided die and subtract.)  It went well and she is memorizing some facts.

The next game we played was a little more inventive and a lot more fun.  We used attribute blocks (pattern blocks would work too) and 2 die (20 sided and 10 sided).  It is hard to give rules, so I will just walk you through a game.

First we rolled the dice.  Say Honey got a 12 and 2.  She subtracted 2 from 12 and got 10.  Then she had to choose enough blocks so that she had a total of 10 sides.  (1 square – 4 sides, 1 triangle – 3 sides, and 3 circles – 1 side each)  We used the blocks to make a picture.  Each roll gives more blocks for your picture.  There really is no winner to this game, but it was fun. 


Games make math doable for Honey.  Without them there is nothing but tears.  She is doing more of her workbook now, but only if someone else does the writing.

Dearie Dethroned!

March 31, 2009

Yesterday, Kiddo was asking a lot of math questions.  (We even did math yesterday, but she is really into asking addition and multiplication questions.)  She really does understand multiplication, so I thought, “Why not teach her some of the hard facts, then it won’t be so hard when she is older and doesn’t want to drill.”  So I asked her 7 X 8, and when she didn’t know I told her.  Then I told her to go ask Dearie, and when Dearie didn’t know I told Kiddo to tell her.  Oh my, Dearie was so mad!  She spent about an hour in her room calming down.  She later told me that she was the smart one and Kiddo was not allowed to know more than she did.  We had a long talk about that, and how she doesn’t like it when people get mad at her for knowing stuff she isn’t supposed to.  She has calmed down, but she still doesn’t like it when I ask Kiddo the “hard” multiplication facts.  On the other hand, Dearie now knows (and will forever know) 7 X 8 ;).

Problem solving. (Monday update)

March 29, 2009

We started a unit on problem solving today.  (Yes on a Sunday, don’t tell the kids that it was school though, they thought it was a game.)  I have several problems lined up for them to solve, but I am still looking for more.  If you have any ideas, please leave a comment.

Cold and Hot jars:  This one was way to easy for Dearie, but it was fun for everyone.  I put two jars on the table, one full of hot water and the other was full of cold water.  Without touching either jar the girls had to figure out which was which. 

—They did this one very quickly.  They saw steam rising from the hot jar and knew that it was hot.  When I demanded proof they put a thermometer in each one and proved it.  Then I dropped a few drops of  food coloring in each one and we watched as the hot water turned pink much quicker than the cold water did.


Take the animals across the bridge:  I will ask the girls to bring me a stuffed rabbit, a stuffed dog, and a stuffed horse.  Then I will grab two boxes and we will go across the creek.  I will put a box on each side of the creek and tell the girls that they have to move all three animals across the creek.  The rules are that only one girl can move animals, and she can carry only one animal at a time.  The rabbit cannot be left with the dog (dogs eat rabbits) or with the horse (rabbits scare horses).  This is an old puzzle, I originally heard it as a man in a boat and the animals were different, but the logic is still the same.  It will be interesting to see how they solve this one.

The girls liked Sunday’s activity so much that they were begging for more. (I don’t think that these activities will last us two weeks!)  I refused to give them another activity, but I did tell them about today’s activity so that they could think about it.  This morning we had to leave early, and in the car the girls were talking about how to get the animals across the bridge.  Dearie was using stickers to act it out (they were in their car seats), and everyone was trying to figure it out.  I gave a hint, “If you are standing there with the animals they can be together.”   All of a sudden Honey says, “I got it!”   And she did have it.  When we got home, we went into the backyard and acted it out.  Kiddo carried her rabbit across and left it in the box, then she went back and got the dog, carried it across and put it in the box and got out the rabbit.  She carried the rabbit back and traded it for the horse and then carried the horse across.  Then she went back and got the rabbit.  Each girl had a turn acting it out and then I gave them some variations. 

I gave the girls a “pass” and said that the pass will get any combination of three girls or animals across the bridge.   They could never have more animal than people, or more people than animals, but only people or only animals would be ok.  They applied this rule to both sides, but not to the bridge.  It did not take them long to figure that one out.  So then I told them that the rule applies to the bridge as well.  They needed the hint that the animals could walk on their own (they are stuffed and the girls had been carrying them), but they quickly got this one too.  They can’t wait for tomorrow’s puzzle!

Get the paper towel wet:  I will put a paper towel down on the ground and on it I will place a salad dressing jar that is 3/4 full of water.  I will tell the girls that they need to get the paper towel wet and that they are not allowed to touch the jar or the paper towel.  The jar is also not allowed to be tipped over.  I expect that this one will take them a while to figure out, but I’m sure that they will.  I have read them the Aesop fable about the crow how drops rocks in the water to raise the water level, but I’m not sure that they will remember it.



Get the paper towel wet 2:  If they use rocks the first time, I will put the jar on the driveway and draw a big square around it.  (I will also make sure that  there just happens to be a stick in the square.  There are a lot of sticks around here so that shouldn’t be a problem.)  They will have the same instructions as before, but this time they are only allowed to use what is in the square.   —– If they use the stick the first time, I will still draw a square, but I will make sure that the square has rocks in it.  ——  If they come up with some other method, then I will just let them go at it again, with instructions to do it a different way.


Counting by 1s, 2s, and 3s:  For this challenge, I will give the girls felt squares with the numbers 1-12 written on them.   Then I will tell them to line the numbers up so that while holding hands, and each girl moving only one square at a time, they can each move as follows: Dearie by 3s, Honey by 2s, and Kiddo by 1s.  This one will be as much about cooperation as it is about logic.


Squared X:  I will draw a square on the driveway and then draw an X inside it.  I will tell the girls to walk on all lines, but to only walk on each line once.  This is not possible, and it will be interesting to see how they react to it.


Moving marbles:  For this one, I will put 15 marbles on the deck and 10 rocks on the ground.  The girls will be given a bucket and told these rules.  1) The bucket has to have 3 rocks or marbles in it to go up.  2) It has to have 5 rocks or marbles in it to go down.  3) The bucket can not go up or down if it is empty.  4) Move all of the rocks to the deck, and all of the marbles to the ground.  — This is one that I think that I will have them work it out with paper dots before they start.  It could take a really long time otherwise.


I will add to this post as we do the activities.  You will find how the kids did in red.

Negative Numbers

March 28, 2009

I’m a math geek.  Its true and I am turning my children into math geeks too! 

Ever since Dearie announced that her favorite number was -18, there has been a lot of talk around here about negative numbers.  I got to thinking about negative numbers and Chutes and Ladders.  I thought, “Why do we always have to put the bigger number first when we are subtracting.  Wouldn’t be fun to sometimes get a negative number and have to go backwards?”  So we did!  First I asked Honey what 3-5 was.  She thought a while and said -2.  So since she “got” it, we played the game.  I used a 20 sided die (1-20) and a 10 sided die (0-9) so that we would get positive numbers more often than negative numbers (didn’t want the game to last forever).  Even Kiddo got in on the fun (and had no trouble with the negative numbers part).  The best move in the game was when someone got a -3 and landed on the big ladder.  That never happens in ‘regular’ Chutes and Ladders.

Crazy week!

March 27, 2009

Sorry that it has been so long since I posted.  It has been a crazy week!  My sister came to visit last week, that was a lot of fun, and then we went to the children’s museum with her on Mon.  We had a regular day on Tuesday.  The girls had piano practice, and their teacher was telling me about trying to get more students.  She had posted on Craig’s list, and received a strange reply.  Someone in another country trying to arrange lessons for their son.  The more she told me about it the more I was sure that it was a scam.  I told her that it was a scam and how it would work.  She was already suspicious and totally believed me, I’m glad that she won’t get taken.  It is nice to be able to use some of the useless information floating around in my head.   Wednesday we had company.  They had never been here before, so we took the day off of school and cleaned house, it was still none too clean.  Thursday was our only totally regular day this week.  (Tuesday was normal for Tuesday, but we have to re-arrange some things for piano, so it is never totally normal.)  Today was another crazy day.  I have a friend who is going through Chemo, and I watched her twins today so that she could somewhat recover from the Chemo.  The 6yo twins got here early and they played a while.  I gathered all of the kids and played a math version of Chutes and Ladders and then I took all five girls to the library.  We must have made quite a site because someone who lives behind the library offered to let us go through his yard straight into the library parking lot!  It cuts a good 5 min. off of our walk.  I also read to the girls after lunch and they played a lot outside.  It was not a school day, but it was an educational day for everyone.  Maybe next week I will find the time to write more than just a summery of our week.

Consumer Math

March 20, 2009

The other day the Alpha Omega catalog came, and I was leafing through it.  We do use a couple of AO products, but none that I am thrilled with.  As I looked through it I was teasing Dearie asking her if she wanted to do more Life Pacs, or this or that…   Then the Consumer Math caught my eye.  I plan to have her do it in a few years as it covers a lot of practical stuff.  So I told her that some day she was going to do Consumer Math and she replied that she was not a consumer!  (She was teasing.)  I told her that she bought things so she was a consumer.  She then gets this big grin on her face and says, “I’m a consumer!”  I looked at her and she says, “I’m an omnivore!”  She laughed and laughed, it was rather funny.  (Her science book has just covered consumers (animals) and producers (plants) and omnivores and herbivores.)

Dearie took the AO catalog to bed with her last night.  I can’t imagine why, its not like it is interesting or anything.  Now when the Sonlight Catalog gets here, that is some good reading.

Practice with adding double digit numbers.

March 16, 2009

We played a new math game today.  Honey’s math book has been reviewing double digit addition, but she hates to write it down in the book.  So today, I pulled out the dice and the white board and the base 10 blocks and started a new game.  This game reviewed place value and addition.

To play, I found 2 dice that would only add up to 9 if each die rolled the largest number.  This was a 4 sided die, and 6 sided die with the numbers 2,3,3,4,4, and 5 printed on it.  I am still using only dice with printed numbers, I want to focus on addition not counting dots.  Then I found two 6 sided dice with the numbers 1-6 on them.  All of the dice look a little different (one blue, one green, one small white, one large white).   I drew blanks on the white board to represent a double digit addition problem and rolled the dice.  Each die was assigned a blank (so that the ones place could only get up to a 9, we have not started regrouping or carrying yet) and I worked the addition problem.  Then I took that number of base ten blocks and added it to my pile.  The first player to get the thousand block, wins.

Of course we ran out of base ten blocks about halfway through (there are only ten 100 flats), but we just pulled out the cuisenaire rods and kept playing.  Honey won, of course.  She had no problem working the problems, so I won’t make her do the ones in the book.

Introducing double negatives.

March 12, 2009

Yesterday’s math lesson with Dearie turned out to be rather interesting.  We were going over a review page and the question was to find the side of a square if given the perimeter.  She made the mistake of thinking that the perimeter was the area and came up with the wrong answer.  It was not an understanding mistake (she just mixed up the perimeter and area), so I just gave her a few more to help her remember the difference.  She realized that I was making them up and called me on it.  I said yes, and that I was sorry that I couldn’t use her favorite number (-18) in any of the problems.  After all, the side of a square cannot be -18.  But then, being the math geek that I am, I did give her some problems with her favorite number. 

20+(-18)=  She thought a while and said 2.   Correct

-18 – (-18)= She was puzzled by this one.  She said -36, and I replied, “Nope.”  She thought a while longer and with a smile on her face said 0.  Correct

I was really surprised that I did not have to explain this concept to her.  Double negatives confuse a lot of people, and to figure it out on her own was pretty amazing.  No wonder she is bored with the multiplication and division of decimals that her math book is covering right now.  I am trying to compact it for her, but it is still not fast enough to get to the good stuff.

I’m glad you’re teaching me.

March 11, 2009

The last couple of reading lessons have been rather hard on Honey.  She gets frustrated and wants to quit.  We have moved from the more “game” type of lessons to more traditional lessons.  There is still a lot of hands on, moving letters around, but we are at the edge of her understanding and it is hard for her.  Yesterday, through tears, she told me, “I’m glad you’re teaching me.”   WOW!  Sure its hard, but it is worth doing, and I think that she gets that.

I really think that in the long run, these difficulties are a benefit for Honey.  She is learning how to work hard; how to do hard things.  Things come so easy to the other girls that they have never really had to struggle through the desire to quit.  (Dearie has had some of this with piano, which is why we do piano, but not to the extent that Honey does.)  I think it is a life skill that will help Honey all her life.

Joke from Dearie.

March 10, 2009

Why did the dog want the apple core?

So he could eat the meat off of it!

The voice of reason.

March 8, 2009

I was talking to a friend today about Dearie’s test results.  Her reply was, “I’m not surprised.”  Even when I pointed out how well she did compared to other gifted kids, her reply was, “I’m not surprised.”  At first I was rather taken aback.  After all, the results surprised me, but my friend has a more objective view.  She has known Dearie all her life, and could probably see more than I could.   It was good to hear a calm, yes she is smart, but you can do this.

Favorite numbers

March 5, 2009

Today I was doing math with Honey while Dearie was in the room.  I was reading numbers to Honey and she was writing them down.  (There are still several numbers that are a challenge to her, especially the teens.)  So I am reading the numbers:




When I hear, “That’s my favorite number.  Well, actually negative eighteen is my favorite.”


So then I did an inventory of everyone’s favorite numbers.

Dearie: -18

Honey: 14

Kiddo: 5

Well, at least Kiddo has an ordinary favorite number.


March 4, 2009

I got the results from Dearie’s Explore test today.  (Remember the Explore test is a standardized test designed to be given to 8th graders.)   Her scores were very high compared to 8th graders.   I was proud.  Then I looked up how she compared to other 3rd graders who took the test.  I started feeling nauseous.  Breathe.  Breathe.  She is still the same kid.  These are just numbers. 

It does explain why the 7th grade science is working so well, and why she is flying through math, and tells me that I really need to get on the ball as far as language arts goes.  The results included a section that showed what she should know (according to her results) and what she should be working on.  Some of the math things it recommended that she work on, I wouldn’t know how to do without looking them up. (And I had a math minor in college.)  This is going to be a challenge to stay ahead of her, or to  just stay even with her. 

Can’t let life get boring!


March 4, 2009

Yesterday, the girls and Dora were playing a new game.  It came with a CD that you have to listen to and do what is says (dance, sing…).  Dearie quickly tired of the game and went to do something else.  She kept coming back and making life miserable for the girls who were still playing.  I finally ran her out of the room, and let the other girls have some peace.  Later, I talked to her about it.  She said that she just liked listening to the CD and playing it, but that the game was no fun.  She said that she liked just listening to the CD 300% more than playing the game.


March 1, 2009

I think that I have finally found the answer to Dearie’s Handwriting.  Her handwriting has been horrible ever since she started to write.  I think that the problem was that she was so little when she learned to read that I pushed her write before she was ready, amistake that I am trying to not repeat with Kiddo.   Her printing still resembles that of a 5yo.  So, this year I thought that we would try cursive.  If she started over with a new way of writing, it just might be that she would learn it right and maybe it would be readable.  Just maybe.

At the beginning of the year, I gave up.  Dearie hated cursive.  I dropped it for a couple of months, but when I re-did the schedule in Jan, I added 15 min. of handwriting.  I just told her to do her book, and I stayed out of it.  It worked!  She came to me a couple of days ago and said that showed me that she had learned all the letters except q, x, and z.  I told her that she could switch over to cursive whenever she wanted to.  She is still  working in her handwriting book, but she is writing in cursive for most of her assignments.  I can now actually read the work she does!  Switching to cursive had another advantage;  she no longer capitalizes stray letters in the middle of words!  I think that cursive is going to be a good thing for her.