Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A New Smile

This little one is certainly keeping the tooth fairy in business. 6 teeth gone so far...


Thanks to an amazing publisher's book sale I was able to go to this year, I was able to create a book advent for each of the kids. Each day they get to open a new book. It's been fabulous and they're loving it. What's better than a new book every day for 24 days. They are very fortunate.

Christmas Party

Heinrich's work had their annual kid's Christmas party a few weeks ago. They hold it in the amusement park section of a big city mall. They close down the section for employees and their kids. It's a great time and the kids look forward to it every year.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Poem #1

I've been working on a poetry unit with my grade 6 class. I had them purchase sketchbooks which had paper that could handle watercolours. For our poetry unit, we're studying a different type of poem and an art technique (for lack of a better word) each week. My goal is to have the students create a beautiful poetry journal filled with art that they can truly be proud of. So far, they've done a fantastic job and are so proud of themselves.

I'm enjoying this project so much that I've decided to do it with my two. We started with the acrostic poem using their first names. Last names could be added as well. I chose to have them write sentences for each letter of their name, but for younger children, they could easily choose one word for each letter. The word or sentences must be reflective of the child.

For the artwork on the border, I had them make some tangled art. Since I can't find a link online, here's a quick lesson. I did it within a border, but it's even better when you can fill a whole page.
1) draw 4-5 curved lines from one edge of the page to the other. Allow them to criss cross.

2) fill each shape with a different pattern.

3) go over curved lines and patterns with a fine black Sharpie marker.

4) after discussing colour theory and colour options, have them fill in each space with colour.

Mason - age 7

Mickey - age 5

The kids were so proud of themselves when they were done. Stay tuned for our next poem.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Check This Out!

A New Book

I've been eyeing these books by Erin Hunter for a while. Going into the children's department in any bookstore can be quite daunting. As a book lover, I get completely overwhelmed. I want to buy everything. Finding a chapter book suitable for a young, yet advanced reader can be a challenge. I need the books to interest him, yet not be garbage. I also need them to interest me! After speaking with the sales rep. at our local Chapters, ( who really knew her stuff), I decided to give this book a go. This is Mason's newest chapter book. He loves animals so a fantasy book all about bears, is perfect. It's beautifully written and I am enjoying hearing the story as well. When we finish it we will write a more complete review. If we enjoy this series, I'm sure we'll try Warriers as well. I would love to hear from anyone who has read them all. What did you think?

Thursday, November 18, 2010


A friend suggested that we get our kids together to do some experiments. She had three in mind that all used balloons. We stayed with the balloon theme and ended up with seven fun experiments. Nothing serious, just some fun experimenting!

We started by creating static electricity. They had a lot of fun with this one.

Next we tried the "skewer through the balloon" experiment. This was cool! The kids predicted the best locations for the skewer to enter and exit the balloon. Unfortunately I didn't have any of the thin wooden ones so, we had to make do with a metal shish kebab skewer which proved to be a little more challenging. It took a few tries, but finally worked. The kids figured out that it was best to put the skewer through the area with the least amount of stress on it.

Here's a good one to demonstrate the difference between expansion and contraction. Since I didn't always have my camera at the ready, my pictures aren't the best, but you get the idea!

Check out this video for demonstrating centripetal force. The kids enjoyed this one and it could be expanded on in a variety of ways; different sized balloons, different objects, etc...

All kids love a chemical reaction. Try this simple one for blowing up a balloon.

And my personal favourite, the balloon hovercraft. It definitely helped to have another set of hands available to help stretch the balloon over the top. Very neat.

Next theme....lemons!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Money Worksheets

This is a good site for generating money worksheets. Different currencies are available.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Good Math Link

Check out this site for math practice. Note: Area and Perimeter is under Geometry instead of Measurement.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Christmas Ideas - Free online magazine!

I just found this link to a great online magazine filled with Christmas ideas. It's free too! Thanks Karen for the link. Enjoy everyone!

Our Science Program

I must admit that our science program is not well developed. It's generally child led. The only component that's organized is a science co-op that I've organized. We meet every other week with 13 other children. Half of our program is delivered by this group and half by this one. The rest of our learning is determined by Mason and Mickey's current interests. Both of these programs are wonderful and are very hands on. The organizers are very willing to work within our guidelines.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Suspense Story Writing Prompts

Here is a series of writing prompts that I used when my class was working on suspense writing. These aren't meant to replace their story but rather jump start their creative juices. I would use the one below for confident writers. As the prompts progressed, students loved sharing what they had written and demonstrating how they had used rich vocab.

Starter sentence:
He (or she) thought she heard someone in the house.

a) where was he/she in the house?
b) what was the disturbing sound he/she heard?
c) what was he/she thinking? What question could be going through his/her mind?
d) was anything out of the ordinary in the house?
e) did the character smell anything? Did it remind him/her of anything?
f) connect that memory to the present moment.
g) raise another question in the character's mind.
h) what does the character really want to do right now but can't?
i) Why is he/she afraid?
j) Have the character take some kind of action.
k) Put an obstacle in his/her path; make him retreat.
l) Give him/her the courage to return and try again.
m) Have the character discover what's really going on.

Here's a much shorter one I tried with younger writers. It could easily have been made longer.

Once upon a time I was _______________________________________________ and I heard ________________________________________.

The noise made me feel ________________________________. I think it was ____________________________________________________.

I quickly ________________________________________________________________________________. All of a sudden __________________


Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Post for Those Homeschooling A Teen

Here's a post from one of my favourite bloggers. This kid seems pretty cool!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Downloadable Sound Blend Strips

Just found these. Might be worth a look. I'll need to explore her site further!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Math Curriculum

I'm trying to continue my overview of the resources and curriculum that we're using for the different subject areas. It's taking me a while, and I apologize!

The purchased curriculum that I use is Bob Jones and I supplement with Jump math. I find that Bob Jones is definitely the most thorough and the one that best suits my children. I did not select it because of it's Christian content. I selected it because:

1) it's visually appealing (colourful, bright, lots of images, etc...)
2) it covers all areas of the Ontario curriculum and prepares learners for the next year
3) often goes beyond the grade expectations, and finally,
4) reinforces past learned material

On almost every page of Bob Jones Math is a word problem and although the child may be working on fact families, let's say, the book also includes questions from past lessons (other strands) to help reinforce learning. It's not enough to cover a topic once and then move on. In math especially, students often forget their skills when they're not usually them daily. Not only do kids need to understand the concepts and relationships, but they need to be able to do them fast. The more proficient they become, the more confident they will be with higher level thinking.

I can't say that I'm thrilled with Jump math. In the words of my mother, who's a retired primary school teacher (educated in the British system), "it's ridiculous!" It does have it's purpose, especially when combined with another source. I don't believe that it should be used on it's own. It simply does not cover all areas and doesn't use a variety of strategies.

We also use a number of other resources and manipulatives. Here are just a few of the manipulatives that we use:

Base Ten Blocks. I would not do without these!

We use these cheap plastic toys from the dollar store as counters and other manipulatives. An inexpensive tool.

We've had a few different clocks (including homemade which serves a purpose), but this is by far the best. I like that the time also shows up in digital format at the bottom and that the child can select AM or PM. It also has a handy stand on the back so it doesn't have to be hung up or lay flat on the table.

The kids love the play money. This set was a bit expensive, but after much searching and not being able to find a set with a good number of coins and bills, I settled on this one.

Flashcards. I don't use them often but the kids like to play with them and test each other. They see how fast they can say their facts.

A variety of different manipulatives.

Number stamps. These were given to us by a friend and although I wouldn't have purchased them myself, they've been a lot of fun. Great for encouraging them to make up equations.

The great thing about homeschool math is that we just keep going. We don't stop when the kids finish a grade level. It's a continuum. That's why, when people ask me now what grade the kids are in, I have to stop and think, what the "proper" answer is, not what grade level I'm doing in each subject area. My guys are starting to get very confused! It's great. They're moving at their own pace and that's what matters.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Halloween Craft

Here's a recent Hallowe'en craft we did. I love this one!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Multiplication With Your Fingers

For those students who have problems with their 6,7,8, and 9 times tables, here is a trick they can use.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Day At The Apple Farm

Who goes to the local apple farm on Thanksgiving weekend, when as homeschoolers, we can go anytime! We must be crazy! But, we had fun! I think we were the only country people there. Everyone else was from the big city!