The Trash Squad

Recently we came up with an idea to go around our town and pick up trash. I know it doesn’t sound like the most amazingly fun thing to do, but actually it’s pretty cool.

Both of the kids really enjoy it, and like to see what they can find. We usually weigh our bags at the end and keep track of the biggest/heaviest/yuckiest items we find.

They created a Facebook page to keep track of what they have been doing and to hopefully encourage others to join in and pick up around their communities, as well as to not liter.

You can check out the Facebook page here with some photos of the kids. They were pretty excited the first time out and received a $2 donation from a random women driving by. She stopped and asked what we were doing, we told her picking up trash, and she said why, we said because we hate seeing the side of the road covered in garbage, then she handed the kids $2 and said thank you. It was sweet and they decided to get some ice cream after all their hard-work.

The kids came up with the name btw, we are working on getting some shirts made for them too.

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Just finished our first week of school!

Actually, we only had 3 days of school last week, and 3 this week. That’s why we homeschool though, so we can go on trips or take off days when we need to 🙂 We were supposed to start school on Monday last week, but I ended up needing to watch my sister’s two kids, and this week we took a field trip, so it was  another short week. It’s kind of nice starting off this year slow, to get into the groove again. We ended up having a 6 week break (WAY longer than I had planned)!

Here they are, proud to be moving up the ladder and getting more independent. Turner, our 3rd grader.

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Lilly, our 2nd grader.

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Caden, my nephew, also in 2nd grade.

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The kids said they had a ton of fun this week, my daughter even said she liked Math! (Although, I’m not sure why, because we didn’t do anything different, other than have complete one-on-one time, only her and I were at the table at once. Oh, and she loved writing on the window with dry erase markers!)

I really like our morning meeting time that I have implemented with things such as talking about famous quotes, learning a new ASL phrase, setting goals and plans to achieve them, assigning the kids an endeavor (they LOVE this!). We also meditate for 5 minutes, I recently read this interesting article about how good it is for you, which I’ll link to soon.

Another thing we do is have a character trait of the week. They each spell it on the board and we look up the definition in the dictionary, whoever shows that trait the most during the week wins the card and we will count them up at the end of the year to see who has the most with a small prize.

I am really trying to focus on character building, learning through natural ways and great discussions this year. There are so many ways to learn and grow without workbooks.

For History we started where we left off in SOTW Ancient, chapter 17. The kids really liked the story and compared it to The Hunger Games, it sounded just like it too (the people put names in a bowl then drew 7 boys and 7 girls to be sent off to another island with a Minotaur, then a prince ‘volunteers’ to go and kill it, which he does). They had fun working together as a group to build a Lego labyrinth (which Turner then compared to The Maze Runner!)

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We are studying a famous artist each week and this week we focused on Paul Cezanne and his painting, ‘The Blue Vase’. They used oil pastels and drew their own vase. I think they turned out amazing. I really like the look of oil pastels. Lilly has been crazy about them since we scored some for $1 at yard sale, and draws each day.

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For Physical Education we are working on our golf, bowling, and running skill sets.

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We call them skills, so the kids can see the progress they are making, and can see their progression each time. Just going and playing golf is fun, but to work on a skill set, such as putting 3 in a row, or hitting off the tee… they can then see how well all their hard work is paying off.

Actually, I’ve been calling everything a ‘skill’ this year and they love it. Instead of saying let’s do some Math, I say, ‘Hey, let’s work on your factoring skills, or you multiplication skills.’ In Language Arts, right now we are working on our ‘how to write a paragraph skills’. For some reason, it has helped them focus more when we work.

I think a big reason we are starting off strong, is that I have really taken a lot of time to plan and have a goal for everything. There must be a reason we are doing something, otherwise it’s a waste of time. With this mind set, I have been able to see the smiles on their faces, knowing they have accomplished something great.

New School Year 2015-2016

Two 2nd graders, and one 3rd grader this year! Such fun!

I’m am excited to start the year off next week.

We homeschool Mon-Thurs and start around 8am. Last year we started later and ended up not doing quite a few things because of it. Once 1pm rolls around we are all ready to go our separate ways. Our ‘breaks’ are centered around my nephews’ dad’s schedule: when he comes home, we take time off, generally 7-10 days.

Each day the kids complete Math (either Khan Academy or their Miquon books, Turner will finish with Miquon soon and go to Teaching Textbooks). They also have reading (which is usually done before bed), and their ETC books (which I believe they will all finish those this year). Oh, let’s not forget PE too, staying active is a big deal is this house.

Other than that, we are trying a new thing each morning before anything else, and I call it our morning meeting. We basically sit around our awesome new table fr IKEA and learn a new ASL phrase, discuss a famous quote and how it applies to life or what they think about it, discuss any goals they have and a plan to get there, and we are also have group vocabulary using Freerice.com, they really feel like they are helping others out and never complain about learning some new words! Win-win for us! A few others things we do are dictation and some group memory work every now and then.

It may seem super orderly, but it’s relaxed and fun. Nothing is forced or has a time limit.

Things that they will do a few times a week are keyboard practice, Coding (code.org), Art (we are studying one famous artist a week then creating similar art pieces),  History (SOTW), Science (Mystery Science), and Geography (Little Passports USA Edition).

Another new idea we are implementing is Individual Weekly Questions. During our morning meeting, they each decide on a question they want to know the answer to, then present that information to the class on Thursday during the morning meeting. They are responsible for researching the topic. It will be on something they want to know, whether it’s how Legos are made, or how old the trees in our yard are. I will guide them in finding the answers if they need it, but they are on their own during the presentation.

One last thing we have are endeavors. They love them. I basically write down their endeavor on a card and they work on it in their free time until they completed it. Once they have it mastered, we write a completion date on the card and they keep them so we can look back at all their endeavors each year. Endeavors are skill sets I want them to work on tailored just for them: shoes tying, counting on Spanish, writing their address, knowing the states that border us, writing their birthdate, etc. the possibilities are endless.

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Sheriff’s Office Field Trip

We went with another homeschool family to our local sheriff’s office last week. I wasn’t really expecting it to be that exciting to be honest, but thankfully, I was wrong.

The kids and I both had a great time. They took us through every part of the department starting in the Sally Port (where they bring the prisoners to book in).

Then they showed what each person got while they were there, where they stayed (even showing them the prisoners), the tower where all the door controls are, and the admin offices.

Turner, who is fascinated with the police, asked a ton of questions, including if anyone had done a pit maneuver.

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They demonstrated the taser a few times, which made the kids jump, and towards the end they got to check out the cop SUV, including the tire spikes.

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It was a great trip; I’m glad we went.

Mastering Math – Going up a Grade Level

I’m going to introduce you to two Math programs we use, the only two. The two that has helped my kids progress quicker than I thought they would.

Around here, we don’t grade. We work until Mastery. Which is one reason why I love Khan Academy. Here is another post I did about Khan.

They make sure your kids know what they’re doing before moving them forward.

They test them through a Mastery Challenge each day.

They give real life examples.

Our kids are able to work at their own pace, whether that’s fast or slow.

There are videos explaining how problems are done, if you need them.

I could keep listing reason why I (we) love Khan, but I’ll spare you the giant blog post.

So I’m going to brag a little bit about my kids… I mean I am a parent, a proud parent, and I want to share with you what has helped my (just turned) 8 year old son.

Turner has always been good at Math, but Khan has helped him progress a little quicker.

Last week, he finished K-2. Mastered it. Turner just started 2nd grade (in July).

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Another thing about Khan, during Mastery Challenges, they sometimes put upper level problems, you can do those or click ‘I have not learned that yet.’ That is how he is already at 40% completed with 3rd grade right now.

2014-09-25At his pace, he’s pretty confident he will be finished with 3rd grade before he is even in 3rd grade.

Another Math curriculum that I want to mention, because I really feel like it’s a major reason why he and my daughter are advancing and understanding harder problems sooner is Miquon Math. Read about why we love it here.

One thing it doesn’t have though is word problems. That’s why Khan is a nice balance.

At first, Miquon is a little hard to understand and get the hang of, but we absolutely love it now. They introduce concepts such as Multiplying and Division by the end of book 1, and the end of book 2 introduces factoring. (both 1st grade level)

Here is a photo of Turner being introduced to factoring last week, end of Miquon Red Book.

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Now I’m not trying to get my kids to college by 12 or anything, but I do want them to be challenged and have fun with Math.

We see no reason to hold them back. If they are ready for bigger things, we are ready to help them.

If my kids need 1st grade writing and 3rd grade Math, that’s fine with me. I’ll do it. I’ll help them.

I’ll make sure they are not behind, but I will not close any doors incase they want to move forward.

Working year round has so many benefits, and I can see that clearly when I look at how far our kids progress and retain information.

Learning is a marathon that never truly ends. I want my kids to pace themselves, and enjoy the steps along the way.