Saturday, March 31, 2007

A Summary of Resources for the Evolved Homeschooler

Just thought I'd stick up a post that collects the homeschooling community resources and means of networking availible to those of us who accept and teach the theory of evolution to our kids.

- Evolved Homeschooling blog
"A collection of evolution and science resources for the secular homeschooler."

- Evolved Homeschooling Webring

- Evolved Homeschool Wiki Chris O'Donnal set this up and has invited the evolved homeschoolers out there to make a page for themselves.

- A logo. It's the Darwin fish, "Evolved Homeschooler" logo in my sidebar and anyone is free to grab it for their own blog or site.

Please let me know what other sites, blogs, etc, to do with homeschooling and evolution there are out there

Arts & Crafts

No 'Life in the Eucharist' today. My sister forgot that she was going to look after Harry and let me use her vehicle and commited to something else. I still haven't managed to get ahold of her and couldn't get ahold of anyone to rescue us either. So I had to console Catherine who had given up a brownie trip to a wave pool to go.

Disasters like that call for extreme measures and so we brought out the damn 'Paint Sensation!' This is a horribly designed toy that drops a stream of paint on a spinning piece of paper. the effect can be beautiful when the thing isn't dripping huge globs of paint all over your picture. However, we picked it up for a couple of bucks in a thrift store and the kids really didn't care about the globs. Here are a couple of the pictures;

Left; Harry
Right; Catherine

Then we blew balloons. Not blew them up but actually blew them into being. One of the items in Catherine's christmas stocking last year was a little kit with a container of something that smells like glue and a tube. You put a bit of the paste from the container on one end of the tube and blow. Soon you have a balloon. The balloon really looks more like a soap bubble then a balloon but it's still pretty darn cool.

Next neat toy was a magnetic mosaic kit. It consists of a magnetic board and hundreds of tiny magnetic squares in different colours. That didn't last for long however as that reminded them of the magnet kit I'd picked up at the local Bargain Shop awhile ago. It was a $10 kit but had a nice selection of different kinds and shapes of magnets.

So no Jesus stuff today but he'd have a hard time competing against homemade balloons anyway. And it is nice to realize that we have the coolest damn toys on our road.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Secular Homeschooling?

I'm a christian myself but in our family life, religion really hasn't played a large role. My husband's atheist and we haven't baptized the kids. I count us as secular homeschoolers.

However, this week has been chock full of christianity. First was the 'Life in the Eucharist', a program my minister friend invited Catherine to participate in and then I, for some reason, picked up a 'Bible BIG Fun Activity Book' for a couple of dollars at a local store.

The eucharist program is a lot of fun and the workbook we do throughout the week is thought provoking. Granted, it doesn't always provoke the thoughts in Catherine that the program's auhors may have intended but I'm quite comfortable with that. It also gives her a bit of insight into my faith and some knowledge of the meanings behind certain symbols and rituals.

The bible activity book (a glorified colouring book) is okay and has sparked bible readings. It was the first Genesis story today. So I read the story and then she did the associated mazes and colour-by-number activities. We've been reading a lot of myth this year so it can't hurt to introduce her to the myths that make up what's been her families historic faith. Besides, when we're done reading we can practice some critical reflection. We can talk about how God seperated the waters and created the dome of earth and what water may symbolicly represent. We can also recognize that by that account, a literal take would demand Earth look something like the dice bubble in a "Trouble!" game. When we got to God giving humans dominion over the earth we had quite a discussion on what dominion meant and Catherine ended it by quoting Uncle Ben's (from Spiderman) great contribution to pop culture, "With great power comes great resposibility."

It feels a little funny to have such a focus on christianity but if my kids turn out to be believers, I don't think it's enough that they have a firm grasp of science. I think they have to have a critical approach to religion, an appreciation for myths and no need to twist both myth and science to justify their faith.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Evolved Homeschooler

Yes, I know almost nobody reads this blog and I'm a newbie on the homeschooling blog scene but at O’DonnellWeb, Chris O'Donnell has started an 'Evolved Homeschooler' wiki for those of us who accept evolution. It got me thinking and I took an idea for a graphic over to my friends at the forums (my geek home) and two of them came up with this badge...

Feel free to steal it if you like it.

All credit goes to Spider Monkey (who came up with the design) and Satchboy (who put it together)...You guys know who you are. :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

My Little Polytheist

We went back to Key to Fractions for a bit yesterday after a page of Math Mammoth review. Just a bit though. On to the 'Living in the Eucharist,' program and some interesting discussions. Catherine informed me that she doesn't beleive there really was a physical ressurection. I agreed. She then told me that she believed in Gods, not god. Oh well. I shared my thought that each culture has a different image of the same divine force and that I thought she and I believed in the same thing, but viewed it differently. She nodded and said, "I still don't believe in one god though."

I was fine with having atheist kids but how do I handle a polytheist? :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


The newest Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Alasandra and it's dedicated to Charles Darwin. Love it!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Eucharist and the Four Seasons

Today is shaping up to be a big day of table work. Table work because I find it hard to say 'school' work. Unschooling may not be my primary approach anymore but it still runs under the surface of much of what we do.

Math first. Still Math Mammoth. I just can't communicate how much I appreciate this curricullum. When Catherine is having trouble with any aspect of arithmetic I just open up the blue series folder on my desktop and search for the appropriate work and print some out for her. So she learned about adding to 9's by taking 1 away from the number she is adding the 9 to. By the time she was finished the fingers she usually uses for counted were instead occupied with tapping her chin for the half-second or so it took her to answer the math question I'd drill her on.

We ditched Grammar today because Catherine is involved in a 'Life in the Eucharist' program at our local church and was sent home with some homework. It's a program for inviting children into the eucharist and teaching them about it. Now Catherine's not baptized and not eager to be at this point so she won't be taking communion anytime soon however, she's enjoying this and learning a bit about her family's traditional beliefs. It made me realize too that in my efforts not to impose my faith on Catherine and Harry, I've been refusing to even share it. While we've read about Hercules and Thor, I've barely mentioned Adam or Joseph. I believe my kids should be free to look beyond their roots fo their beliefs but I think I've got to take more time in letting them know what those roots are.

So we did the homework and even recited a prayer together, something Catherine enjoys.

After lunch we did some science ("science isn't school work Mom"). It was about the four seasons and I did it only because Catherine seemed a little shaky on what season followed what last week. It was probably just a bad moment but regardless, I printed out the following graphic...

She then cut it out and taped it onto a paper plate. She traced the seasons with her finger and told me what shape she was tracing. I told her the shape was fundamentally important to the seasons and we brainstormed about why that would be, eventually settling on the fact that the planet revolves around the sun.

Big goof up though. The circle is, of course, NOT the shape that defines the orbit of the earth around the sun and the fact that it's not, that the orbit is elliptical, is fundamentally important to the seasons. D'oh. This was made clear in our next activity which can be found here. It's a wonderful little read with some neat activites that really make clear how the earth's path around the sun causes the seasons. Nothing I could have come up with could have explained the idea better.

We're on the verge of more math at the moment as Catherine has a bit to finish up. Reading is on tap for later, more "Little House in the Big Woods," and her quiet time will probably be taken up with listening to her current audiobook, Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Working Through Frustration

So Saturday night Catherine told me that perhaps instead of putting away the math books when we came to something she founf frustrating and hard we should simply work through it because, "Then we get it over with and it will be easier, right?"

It's such a great moment when you hear you're kid say something like that.

She was true to her word today and sat down to math with nary a complaint. She plugged away at her Math Mammoth stuff (to firm up her subtraction skills) for a couple of hours. If something got tough she'd ask for help and we'd plow through it. It was a little funny though because she had to write equations to describe word problems. A word problem would say something like, "Ann had 25 apples and Mary had 17. How many more did Ann have?" Of course I thought the equation would be 25-17=__. Noooo. Catherine decided the much easier course would be 17+__=25.

"It's easier that way Mom."

It's nice to see she's got more then one way to approach a problem.

Math and the Nile

Catherine and I worked on a little bit of math today. We went back to Singapore math but something about the work was frustrating Catherine. It's fairly simple subtraction but with changing tens. 67-8 and the like. She seems to have a little trouble with that. Putting the workbook aside I pulled out our abacus and some paper base ten blocks glued on cardstock that I printed from this site. The abacus was mildly helpful but it was the base ten blocks that really had Catherine enjoying herself. I can see the bar modeling in SM is going to be helpful for her.

After we were done we went back to the Childcraft 'Mathemagic' book. Honestly, if you don't have a set of these they're worth scouring yard sales and thrift stores for. I had a whole set sitting on my shelf for years until I finally picked up "Mathemagic" and "Science, Science Everywhere!" a few weeks back. Since then they've become a core part of our homeschooling. The 'Mathemagic" book had a nice turtorial for using the abacus so Catherine and I went over that. Then we explored different systems of writing numbers like the Roman and Egyption systems and tried our hand at writing numbers with them. The was no place value with these so math must have been hellish. We also took a peek at the binary, base 2, system used by computers. Cool stuff.

The second part of the BBC Nile documentary went on tonight and it was better then the first one. It traced the annual flood of the Nile up the river, up the Blue Nile and into the Ethiopian highlands to the source of the flood. It was thrilling.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Nile

Both Kyle and Maddie were up again today and despite being exhausted from swimming yesterday, Catherine had had a late night so I shoul have known it wasn't going to be much of a school day. Still, I plunked Catherine down at the table and gave her a bit of copywork to start with. It was only Dd and Bb with sheets I made at this site. She's had some trouble telling the lower case b and d apart so I thought a page of copying the two might help a bit. It did...a bit. We'll continue to work on that.

I pulled out the Singapore text and Catherine started and gave a good try but she was messing up on simple ideas I was sure she knew so again, we called it a day. I'm not going to force the issue when there's no possibility of her retaining or even making sense of the math. We did have a talk about getting enough sleep and agree that she would be getting up tommorrow to do a bit of math.

The afternoon involved a bit of play on the computer with Kyle but after they abandoned that they drew maps, wrote or drew lists of supplies and started playing explorer. It went on forever and the surprising part to me that, by far, the bulk of their play went into the making of the maps. It took quite awhile before they decided to actually pretend to use the maps.

Tonight we're going to watch the first part of a BBC series on the Nile. No, I didn't buy it. Yes, I obtained by means legal in Canada and almost nowhere else. I'm not sure what I'd do without torrents and P2P software. We certainly wouldn't have access to most of the documentaries we wathc now without them. Anyhow, the series looks beautiful and being a BBC production I'm fairly sure it's of decent quality.

And speaking of documentaries and quality, I watched, "The Lost Tomb of Jesus," last night. Bits were interesting. Certainly it peaks a person's wonder. Too bad it was such a sloppy mess. Weak inferences were presented as solid evidence in a way that reminded me of past clashes with creationists. If this is what Discovery presents as science, it's really no wonder people in general have such a poor understanding of science. The hypothesis that this was Jesus and his family is really interesting, too bad it was presented in such an awful way.

Not much on Thursday

I was off to my course today. Catherine woke up at my sister's but was taken up to a friend's house by mid-morning for lots and lots of Harvest Moon on the Gamecube. When I got home from the course I picked her up and my sister then whisked the two of them off to the local pool for swimming. She's decided to take Harry swimming once a week which he is going to love.

Preposition Bingo!

Catherine decided she'd like to explore Ancient Egypt in some more depth so I found a couple of little things to whet her appetite before we started math and grammar. The National Geogrphic Kids 'Daily Life in Ancient Egypt' quiz was fun. Next was a small tour of a mummy at The Clickable Mummy. I tell you, there is no better way for an 8 year old to start the day then to hear about brains being pulled out noses or a turpentine-like liquid being, "injected up the anus of the deceased."

Next was math. We went back to Singapore and did a Practice page to review what she's done on place value. Easy and quick for her.

On to Easy Grammar 3-4 with one page of prepositions and then a game of Preposition Bingo. My nephew Kyle was up so he sat down to play, and lose, three games. Catherine seemed to have all the luck.

I called an end to schoolish things then. Catherine and Kyle were dying to play Gemball, a fancy version of the old-school arcade game Breakout with an egyptian theme. It was a happy coincidence that it had a theme related to Catherine's current interest. For other small games and applications you can download for free (legally) check out Give Away of the Day.

That night Catherine and Harry were both off to my sister's for the night.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Colloids, Suspensions, Solutions and 'Stink'

I'm loosening the reigns a bit, trying to keep the pendulum from swinging to far into school-at-home territory. Catherine's been doing more sit down work but enjoying it far less. So we started today when Catherine was ready and that was at about 10:30 am. She did a couple of big pages from Key to Fractions. They were packed with work and one page had quite a bit of writing so we counted that as copy work. It was a long slog with lots of complaints so after she was done I told her I was proud of her determination to finish the paper despite the complaints and we looked over her printing and admired how much it had improved in the past couple of weeks. Even though she'd hated the work she ended up feeling good about it.

The afternoon was filled with hour after hour of She-Ra.

I'd forgotten how bad, how good, that series was.

Yes, It was schlocky. The voice acting was a little hokey, the dialogue full of clunky jokes and one-liners but it was She-Ra. This was He-Man's sister who had every bit of his power, plus a bit. She could lift huge boulders over her head and dispatch Hordak's troups with ease. She led a rebellion and fought for honour and freedom.

This is the era of girl's TV shows where plots revolve around shopping and fashion. The closest you get to female superheroes is often something like Winx where the heroics come after a trip to the mall and between talks about cute boys. So when my daughter finishes a She-Ra marathon with big bright eyes, rosy cheeks and a mile-wide smile I know it's had an effect on her the Bratz girls could never have.

Then it's back to the kitchen table to do the experiments we had read about yesterday. We put out a bunch of glasses, filled them with water, reserved one for a control and then started adding stuff to the water to see if we could make suspensions, colloids and water. That was fun but what was more fun was when I brought out the food colouring and it began to turn from a science lesson into a sciense free-for-all. Harry joined us and they began dumping colours in their water. Then salt, flour, cocoa, eventually came the peppermint and almond extract and still later some different cooking oils. Every sense except taste was engaged in this activity and the two of them had a ball. Harry eventually refered to his concoction as 'stink' and he had good reason to.


Well, I woke the kids up with the smell of french toast cooking. Or rather, I woke them up by yelling, "French toast is cooking!!!"

Catherine and Harry stumbled out and ate. I shuffled Catherine out to the kitchen table for math but it was pretty clear she wasn't up for counting, let alone addition and subtraction. When Justin knocked on the door (Damn March break!) she was quick to escape. A couple of hours later she came back for lunch and after that we tried again. Still some complaining but it's was obvious the fresh air and excercise had cleared the fog from her brain and she finished her math fairly quickly.

After that I picked up one of the Childcraft books, "Science, Science Everywhere!", and we read some of it together. It has a good introduction to science and a nice list of things a kid might want in a 'science' kit for exploring. It's first foray into experimenting was on solutions, colloids and suspensions which we'll investigate on Tuesday.

Harry set himself up on Catherine's computer after supper and played "Thomas; Trouble on the Tracks." For the first time (ever?) he worked away on it all by himself, thinking out some of the puzzles and working on his control of the mouse. While he did that, Catherine and I tried to watch a 'Naked Science' episode on the birth and development of the universe. Tried because as interesting, wonder-filled an downright beautiful as it was, we couldn't stay awake and both drifted of to sleep at around the halfway mark. Maybe I can download it.

Shannon read to Harry as I read to Catherine from, "Little House in the Big Woods." I'm ditching her readings of it as it interupts the flow of the story. I'd much rather just have her enjoy the story.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Dots and Numbers and Words on Sticks

The morning started with Math Mammoth. Catherine finished a page, grumbling as she did. She was excited about going to her cousin Kyle's for the night and so a little too distracted for math. So I took away the workbook and plunked down a bunch of art supplies. I told her to pick an equation from the pages she'd just done and then use the supplies to make different expressions of that equation. She glued down beans to represent all the ones, used sequins for the same thing, drew tally marks to show it in groups of five and so on. I worked on my own project beside her and we compared our works after. We went back to do one more math sheet after but she approached it with a little more focus. I also brought in our abacus for the last sheet and it seemed to help her quite a bit.

Next was Easy Grammar 34 and more on prepositions. Again, it was fun for her. After that was done she did a couple of sheets of copywork. She likes copywork in small doses and it's remarkable how much a little bit of practice improves her printing.

While she ran off to play with clay and watch cartoons I started organizing our little homeschool area. I, of course, got sidetracked when I pulled out a bag of popsicle sticks. There was probably some residual inspiration from unschooling guru, Sandra Dodd's Thinking Sticks idea at work but I decided I should write a bunch of words on the sticks. I ended up with 47 nouns, 28 prepositions and 50 'others' (we'll sort the others when we cover other stuff in grammar). When Catherine wandered back into the kitchen I showed her the sticks and she pulled some out of each bag and made a story up out of them. So I guess that's what they're for. Please don't assume that because they were inspired by Sandra's idea they are a reflection of her thinking sticks. I really don't know what her thinking sticks are all about other then words on popsicle sticks. :)

Anyway, after she'd picked out all the nouns and read them we somehow decided to skip-count with the sticks. So they're language arts and math tools.

After that activity I realized I'd been getting rather anal about curriculum and I pulled out a Childcraft book called 'Mathemagic'. We sat together and I read a puzzle at the beginning. We got out the same popsicle sticks we used earlier to put together 'matchstick square' puzzles from the book and constructed and attempted to deconstruct a moebius strip. After that we read about a little about each number, from zero to ten, and had a great time drawing numbers as dots and arranging the dots into shapes.

It was a bit of a trip back into unschooling that I needed. I realized we hadn't been unschoolers for awhile before our shift to curriculum, we'd just been bored and stale. In my shift to curriculum over the past fews weeks I've become a little too enamoured with worksheets and lesson plans. I feel like we're coming back to some of our unschooling ideals (though I certainly can't call myself a radical unschooler anymore) and starting to find a bit of balance with the kitchen table work. Or at least I've realized I need to work at that balance.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Cold in more than one way...

It's freezing outside and my kids have the cold. not just a cold but THE cold with a fever and dreadful cough and all that.

Catherine still managed some Math Mammoth however. I had both my neice and her 5 year old brother today and while Catherine was at work Kyle (the nephew) decided to do some math too. 8 pages later he was asking for some sheets to take home. Maybe it's the way the Math Mammoth books reject cartoony characters and pictures and simply and honestly ask the kids to work that appeals to them. Regardless, they both love the Mammoth.

That was it for schoolwork for them. I however had to study for my EFM course. It's 'Paul's theology, part 2,' 1 Thessolonians and Philemon. Interesting stuff. It's Corinthians next week though so a lot of reading. I know the NT is just a tad important to christianity and Paul had a little teeny-weeny bit to do with there even being a christianity in the first place but jeez, I just can't wait until next year. Out of scripture and into history from the first days of the church to somewhere in 1800's. I found the myth in the OT easy to deal with. I'll really enjoy the history next year. It's those bits between David and the Gospels where the two swirl together and what's what is harder to tell that tend to muddle me up.

Anyhow, my studying went fine and since it's Thursday today I'll report that class went well. Lots of great discussion and really yummy cookies at lunch break.

Catherine's on her computer and Harry's on the couch with the same fever he had yesterday so I think I'll call today over, retire to the couch for snuggles and log in my next report tommotrrow.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Building Xenosmilus

At 9:00 am sharp Catherine was at the table doing a page from Math Mammoth 'Addition and Subtracton 2A' and enjoying it. We have this pile of math workbooks we've accumulated at yard sales, as presents from relatives and from local dollar and drug stores that Catherine has been dipping into over the years. Usually they're Schoolzone but occasionally they're some other publisher but they all have some general similarities. The pages are filled with colour and cartoonish animals and people and often problems are framed as puzzles rather then equations. Having Key to..., Singapore Math and now Math Mammoth to look over it's become clear the difference in quality between those workbooks and a guided, structured curriculum. Math Mammoth has no cute graphics and much of Singapore is pretty much straightforward equations but Catherine enjoys and works at these books like she never did with the others. I think it must be like getting a huge, delicious garden salad after weeks on end of chocolate bars and candy.

After math we started Easy Grammar 34. It's another curriculum that stands in stark contrast to the colourful, splashy Schoolone stuff and yet again Catherine had a ball with it. Prepositions are tackled first and, holy crap, I challenge anyone reading this to come up with an easily understood definition of what a preposition is. I had Google fired up throughout the lesson, looking for different definitions and examples. Catherine seemed to have a good handle on them though and enjoyed the work. I did too. I'm really looking forward to doing this with her as my grammar is beyond ( <---preposition!) rusty.

Harry was a little out of it today with a cold that's been going around so I gave him some Tylenol and he took it easy watching Treehouse TV. I did ask him if he wanted to do some 'schoolwork' but he said no and mumbled something about Thomas. We did read a few books together throughout the day.

After lunch Catherine and I did a lesson plan from Understanding Evolution called Xenosmilus. It is an awesome activity. You narrate a story and get your child to pick out, a few at a time, (paper images of) fossils that they look over, arrange and make informed guesses about. Eventually you end up with the skeleton of a Xenosmilus, a sabre toothed cat. It needs a little adjusting because it's geared to classrooms but we had a great time with it. At the end we glued the fossils together using the skeleton picture on this page as a guide. Here's a picture of our finished skeleton (sans one leg bone. We found it under the table after rest was complete)...

After that fun Catherine went to her computer (I finally got her sound working after I'd wiped the hard drive and done a fresh install of Windows. No luck with the ethernet card yet though) to play Reader Rabbit Personalized Math (ages 6-9). Harry and Maddie (the niece, up for the day) immediately grabbed chairs and all was quiet as they watched her play for half an hour.

We cleaned up, Maddie went home, we ate. Then Catherine played Neopets as I read to and snuggled with Harry a bit. He went to sleep and I came out for some reading with Catherine. I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder's, "The Long Winter," when I was a kid so I picked up her books in the local used books store and we're now reading "Little House in the Big Woods." To keep the flow of the story I'm going to do the bulk of the reading but a couple of pages were reserved for Catherine. I typed up page 2 and page 17 in Wordpad, enlarged the type and printed them out for her to read when we got to those pages (she had a little trouble with the small print). Just one chapter before quiet time. I can't wait to read some more tommorrow!

Monday, March 5, 2007

First Day With Math Mammoth

I printed off several pages of the Math Mammoth, 'Addition and Subtraction 2A,' today. It's going backwards perhaps but I thought I'd see what Catherine did with it. She was thrilled to see worksheets that were relatively easy and really enjoyed the clean layout of the pages. All was well until she got to a part that asked her to count by two's but started on an odd number. I hadn't realized it but up until now she had thought counting by two's meant listing off the even numbers. Counting by five's meant strictly counting 5, 10, 15...Counting by ten's meant 10, 20, 30...She didn't realize it could be counting relative to the starting number.

I tried explaining it to her several different ways. Finally I printed off a number line, something we'd never used before, intending to show her the pattern behind the idea. However, one look at the number line as I was putting it on the table and she got it. That was it, the concept was understood. Whew.

So Math Mammoth was a huge hit on it's first day and it pointed out a weakness I didn't know was there. I had thought we were going a little crazy with three different curriculums but now I'm sure it was a good move. We have lots of flexibility if any one approach gets boring and each of the three will hopefully compliment and strengthen the other.

After math Catherine set to work cutting pictures of animals out of different National Geographics. They're all damaged doubles of ones we already have but I was still a little nervous. It felt like when I first highlighted some passage or footnote in my study bible...Or bent a spine on one of my comic books. :) The animal pictures are for an activity on classifying animals but I'm in no hurry to do that. She can work away for the next week or two collecting pictures and then we'll start.

Most of the rest of the day was her playing with Harry. They watched a movie together, painted together, had a bath together and even snuggled a bit.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

New blog

I put together another blog because I've been coming across some really great resources and wasn't sure how to squeeze them into this blog. It's the Homeschool Review and it is, "A review of resources, websites, curriculum and news."

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Snow on Saturday!

Finally, some snow. It was a bit of a storm last night and we woke up this morning to a whole 2 or 3 inches of white stuff on the ground. It's been a miserable winter for my daughter who, for most up her short life, has had winters full of record snowfalls and once-in-a-decade snowstorms. A couple of years ago as spring came in I remember seeing a neighbour's pile of snow that had been sliced by a snowplow and noticed the different layers that each successive snow fall or storm had deposited since the previous fall. Not so this year.

So we had a tiny bit of snow but it was enough. The kids and my nephew (who had stayed the night) all got decked out in their snow gear and headed out to build things with snow. Thankfully it was good, heavy snow so although they were soaked when they finally came in for good 3 hours later, at least they had a nice wall built and a few snow animals scattered around the yard. The temperature rose enough that when my brother-in-law picked up Kyle he was in a T-shirt. I suspect the wall and animals will be much reduced or gone alltogether by tommorrow.

Catherine developed a cough in the afternoon and probably has the cold that everyone else has been dealing with for the past week. She sat own in front of the computer and watched a couple of movies I'd, er, downloaded for her. Somewhat legal for me as I'm Canadian. The first was Jungle Emperor Leo, a movie based on an old anime TV show called Kimba, the White Lion. Catherine has seen an ad for it on a Pokemon movie years ago and always wanted to see it. I found it early this week, downloaded it and she has ecstatic. The other movie she watched was actually 5 episodes of a TV cartoon from my childhood called Jem and the Holograms. Here's a reminder for anyone in their 30's...Jem opening theme.

There was also a solar eclipse tonight so Shannon took Catherine out to see some of it. She was mildly impressed. Then it was in to bed for quiet time where she watched an Eyewitness video on dogs.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Again with the Friday

My nephew is over and he and Catherine are playing Star Wars 2 on the XBox so I'm quite sure it's safe to wrap up today in a blog post.

It was fractions and language arts today. Not much for fractions though, just a page that introduced Catherine to fraction vocabulary. I found a nice Grade 2 spelling workbook that I'd picked up some time ago so she did a couple of pages out of that. It's a grade behind but we've done little with spelling so I thought we would try it and Catherine seemed to enjoy it. We also did a couple of worksheets on synonyms.

On to the Gamecube and one of the games Catherine got for Christmas, Animal Crossing. It's an open ended sim game and I was watching her play I realized there was a lot going on that reinforced what she was learning. Lots of reading, money skills and some basic math.

MORE math curricullum on Friday.

Yes, we're adding one more resource to our math lineup. Catherine is doing well with Singapore Math (and her 'fun' book, 'Key to Fractions') but she sometimes seems a little unsure of the basics behind things like multiplication. My husband and I talked it over and thought we'd order the preceeding Singapore Math texts and workbooks (we had been fairly casual about math up until now remember, no texts). However, that would be almost $100.

I found another solution though.

One of my favourite sites at the moment for homeschooling math resources is Homeschool Math. Maria Miller, the woman behind the site has a whole slew of helpful stuff ranging from a great blog to worksheets to resource listings and even her own line of elementary math ebooks at Math Mammoth. The ebooks are on very specific topics like place value or multiplication and seem like exactly the sort of resource we could use to ensure Catherine has a solid foundation in basic arithmetics. We would still use our Singapore Math texts but pull out Math Mammoth when something, say division, seemed to be giving her trouble. Catherine took a look at some of the sample pages and really liked the simple look and the use of colour. I like that they seems to have a real focus on creating a firm understanding of math skills and concepts, are reprintable and heck, have no shipping costs!

In the interest of disclosure I have to say that Maria's running a contest where, if you mention her books and link to a specific Math Mammoth page, she might just send you a free ebook. I'm not looking for a free ebook however since it's cheaper for me to buy her entire Blue Book series (take a peek here) then win one and buy the rest.

Missed a few days!

Summary from Tuesday to Thursday;

They all played with clay. Catherine did some math. We read about some Greek heroes.

Okay, yes, I just don't want to catch up on 3 days of blog posts. :)