Monday, October 26, 2009

Day #34/175 Days

I have been talking about workboxes here for a bit. Today I'll share how it's working in more detail. I just reviewed Sue Patrick's book (Workbox System: A User's Guide) over on my family blog (The Berry Patch).

I am not using 12 bins per child as described in Ms. Patrick's system. I tweaked it and I am using one bin per child with 12 Ziplock bags inside. It's is actually working very well. It keeps all their items separated and visible so they can see their progress. Here is what Lego-Man's bin looked like at the end of the day on Friday....

Anything that needs to be corrected is to be placed on the table. Everything else is placed back in their bin. While they do school, they do make a pile out of the bin but place it all back inside when they are done. This keeps it all close.

Here is what Lego-Man's bin looked like last night after I finished getting it ready for today...

The small plastic box in the front holds pencils, glue stick, scissors, markers, and colored pencils. I put these together last year to save time with gathering supplies we needed during the school day. They work great as long as the boys remember to put everything back in the boxes after they are done using them!

I also write out what I have in each bag on a 5x7 index card. I have a spot for each child plus Miss H & what I want to do together in the morning. That is what I use to type up these posts.

Today our school consisted of this:
"Together Time"
  • Read two chapters from our newest Little House on the Prairie book - On the Banks of Plum Creek
  • Bible Drill (sword drills - I call out Bible verses and they race to find them. Lego-Man is pretty fast at it)
  • Outside for PE - 20 minutes of play (while I spent time searching for the above mentioned index card. I had accidentally thrown it away.)
  • Science - today's lesson was on light & shadow. We went outside and tracked our shadows. The book called for using chalk on the driveway - doesn't work that great with a gravel drive. However, red spray paint on grass works great! Each child (even Miss H) picked a marker to use (a branch, a brick, a small rock, and a large rock) & stood there. I spray painted a mark where the head of their shadow was. We did this at 10am, 1:30pm, and 3:30pm. I meant to do it again before the sun set but I missed. Tomorrow they will draw a picture showing what happened.
  • Grapevine studies which was a bit frustrating today. While the boys were outside I pulled up Sumo Paint where I drew all the things we'd need for today's lesson. It worked fine. Then I went to pull them back up to teach the lesson and it kept locking up my computer and crashing Google Chrome. It was extremely frustrating. I'll be using regular Paint from here on out.
While I did the read aloud this morning, Miss H did this:

colored - her favorite thing to do

and Conductor did this....

While the big boys did the rest of their school together, Miss H got to play with all of this:

  • A bin of sorting things...she's holding a glucose tab bottle with milk caps inside. She's reaching for an old Tums container with pom-poms inside. There is a Pringle can laying there and all the straws go in that. There is a hole cut in the lid. And the small container on the floor is an old spice jar that has toothpicks that get stuck through the lid. After she made this mess, she picked it all up and stacked it neatly in the bin.
  • Then I gave her a small notebook, some Pooh stickers and a bin of crayons. She didn't do much coloring in this but she did put all the stickers inside it. She loves stickers second to coloring I think.
A short break to show you the view I had today while the big boys were doing school. I think it's pretty nice....

  • And this is Miss H's newest game. I call it "Where's me?" Well, actually I call it "Where's Miss H" but she calls it "Where's me?" Love it.

There she is!!!

  • The puzzles finally caught her attention. I had put them out earlier but she didn't want them then. I had all the pieces mixed up & just dumped them on the floor. She put them all back together in the right puzzles and pronounced herself "all done!"
  • I then let her pick out some toys to play with. She chose these binoculars. She actually had them facing the correct way but moved them like this before I could snap a photo.

Shortly after lunch Lego-Man took his workbox out to the shop area to work. I didn't expect him to get all 12 done today and we did skip a few. Here is what he did accomplish (I hope!):
  1. Handwriting
  2. AWANA verses
  3. Math-U-See
  4. Private Devotions
  5. Writing Journal
  6. Work on his blog
  7. Nature journal (sketch a fall scene)
  8. Go outside & take photos for 15 minutes
  9. Assigned reading (The Hobbit)
We had some difficulties today as I mentioned on my other blog. We're definitely still learning how this will work for our family.

Conductor chose to wait for Mr. H to wake up from his nap (he slept in the living room today) so he had a very late start to his workboxes. As a result he did not get many done:
  1. Handwriting
  2. AWANA verses
  3. Math-U-See
  4. Private Devotions
  5. Writing Journal
I did not do any formal learning with Happy today. The upside to this - his workbox is all set for tomorrow.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Day #33/175 Days - LC Bates class

Not a lot of photos today. I never passed off the camera & Mr. H kept trying to help. The class today was on mollusks. There are a lot of them & I learned some neat stuff. My boys did too. We discussed a bit of it on the ride home today.

We again started upstairs & Serena let the children explore the "sea" room & look at all the different specimens of mollusks in there. There is even one of a giant clam - it's over three feet long!

Then we went to check out the fossil display. Here is Happy with his favorite pal & his mom.

Downstairs in the classroom area, where it was only slightly warmer than the rest of the museum (it's not heated), the children saw all kinds of different types of mollusk shells and learned some interesting facts about how they grow, their colors, and their patterns.

Miss Serena showing the children how a mollusk (clam I think) would move through the water.

Interesting fact: The patterns on a mollusk's shell (sea shells) come from the animal that lives inside of it. Whatever pattern is on the shell, that is the pattern/colors on the animal. I thought that was especially interesting given the colorful shells we examined today.

As a hands-on project, the children all made a shell collection:

We are really enjoying these classes. It gives the boys a chance to see some friends and learn some science as well. I'm hoping we can put something together for the spring as well. We have one more class in late November. It is going to be cold but hopefully fun.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Day #32/175 Days

More work boxes....this may start to get boring...I need to find more fun learning ideas to pop in here.

Although, I spent time getting caught up on correcting Tuesday night & discovered a problem. My sons aren't following directions - particularly my oldest. I'll address this in more detail when I do my review of this system early next week. I did have a talk with him & I think things will work better but we'll see. I like this idea as it does foster independence & that is something I want for Lego-Man, but I don't want him spending time every day redoing what he should have done the day before simply because he's rushing to finish.

  1. Handwriting
  2. AWANA
  3. Math (problem #1 - he was to correct the problems he got wrong previously - he was missing regrouping on his reviews - he didn't even touch them & moved on to the next lesson. Today he fixed them after some instruction from me to remind him how to do this. I'm glad MUS builds in review.)
  4. Private Devotions
  5. Quarter Mile Math drill
  6. Writing Journal
  7. ASL File Folder game (problem #2 - he was to correct this FF game as well. He had just put all the letters on the manual alphabet without making sure they were correct. He didn't even touch this "bonus" item from the day before. He fixed it today.)
  8. Edward Hicks art study from Hearts & Trees Winter 2008 kit. These are great craft kits & I'm now pulling some of the projects for the boys to work on.
  9. Computer pages (continuing on from ABCTeach - these are free pages from their site)
  10. Hmmm...I wrote "Fix" on my index card for this number....ahhhh yes - the nature walk page which had a word bank. (Problem #3) Lego-Man attempted to spell the words himself & a number were wrong.
  11. Make mittens - another project from the Hearts & Trees Winter 2008 kit. These will be a set of fleece mittens. Lego-Man completed one today.
  12. Assigned Reading (The Hobbit)

  1. Handwriting
  2. AWANA
  3. Math-U-See
  4. Place Value Worksheet (ABC Teach member page)
  5. Private Devotions
  6. Apple Addition & Pumpkin Subtraction games
  7. Writing Journal
  8. Quarter Mile Math drill
  9. Fleece Mitten project (see link above)
  10. Edward Hicks art study (see link above)
  11. Assigned reading (The Stolen Train)
Happy - we didn't get far today - there's always next week!
  1. Roll a Fall Tree game - we use a regular die
  2. Fall matching game (can't remember where we found it)
  3. Magnet pattern blocks (makes animals)
  4. Wooden puzzles

And Miss H - I have her things in their own bins & on the table. She was able to pick which ones she wanted to do:
  1. Markers/stickers/paper - I found some washable, non-toxic, chunky markers at the dollar store a while ago & picked them up for her. She had those, a sheet of construction paper, and some regular stickers. This kept her busy for about 20 minutes.
  2. Milk jug caps/glucose tabs bottle and pom-poms with a Tums container. ;-) This kept her busy for another 20 minutes as she took them in & out of the containers.
  3. Color your own stickers (I printed about five pages of these awhile ago & she still has some left). I gave her a sheet of colored construction paper & crayons. This didn't last as long as she's been doing it a bit.
  4. Coloring book & crayons
  5. Reading books
  6. Fall sun catcher (I used the tree from the Roll a Fall Tree Game to make these) We did this after her nap & she loved it.

Miss H putting her tissue paper leaves on her tree.

All three of my boys ended the day at AWANA club. This is 1 hour 45 minutes every Thursday night & I do count it as school time.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Day #31/175 Days - Corn Maze Field Trip

I'll let the photos speak for themselves. Although, I will say this was really fun, not that pricey and the best part - we were the only ones there (my sister & nephew came too) for at least the first hour. I love that.

This photo make me laugh every time I see it. Happy couldn't reach so I told him just to wave. LOL

Hey - that's me!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Day #30/175 Days

Work boxes are now in full swing. Today I did boxes for the three boys. We're tweaking as we go.

Lego Man:
  1. Handwriting
  2. AWANA verses
  3. Nature walk page (we went on a walk yesterday & this page had them writing what they say/found - from ABCTeach & I think this is a freebie from them)
  4. Nature Journal - draw a picture of a fall tree
  5. October Glyph - from ABCTeach's member site (very much worth it - more on this later)
  6. Private Devotions
  7. Math-U-See
  8. Quarter Mile Math drill
  9. Computer pages (ABC Teach again & I think it's a freebie)
  10. Writing Journal
  11. Mad Libs
  12. Assigned reading (The Hobbit) for 30 minutes
  13. BONUS bag: Fix the American Sign Language manual alphabet File Folder game

Conductors bags contained:
  1. Handwriting
  2. AWANA
  3. Nature Walk page (see link above)
  4. Nature Journal - draw a fall tree
  5. October glyph (see link above)
  6. Writing Journal
  7. Private Devotions
  8. Math-U-See
  9. Reptile lapbook element - this is something we started working on last month for a review but Conductor never finished his. He still wants to so I'll be adding one element from the lapbook to his boxes for him to work on & then we'll be putting it all together.
  10. Quarter Mile Math drill
  11. Assigned Reading book (The Stolen Train)
Today was Happy's first day using full work boxes. He did pretty well. I do need to keep in mind that he needs things in the morning that are more independent so he can work on those while the older boys & I are doing our read alouds & other subjects together. If I save all of his work until the afternoon, he is too tired to focus well.
  1. AWANA
  2. How Many Scoops file folder game (counting/math)
  3. Math-U-See (Primer)
  4. Read books with me (The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck by Beatrix Potter & Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey)
  5. Nature Walk page - the same as the older boys but I let him cut & paste the correct words from the word bank at the bottom of the page.
  6. Pencil Match File Folder game (counting again)
  7. Handwriting
  8. Busy Bugs game from Discovery Toys
Happy had four more bags to do but at this point he had reached his limit so I let him go play in his room.

Miss H did the following during school time:
  1. colored (this is always a favorite for her)
  2. Aquadoodle (not in to this very much today)
  3. Straws & Pringle can - she puts the in & out in a hole in the cover, dumps them out, picks them up - she enjoys this one
  4. stickers & paper & coloring - another favorite

Monday, October 19, 2009

Day #29/175 Days

Our first day using work boxes & it seems to be going well. Here's how today went...

  • Read Aloud for about 30 minutes (Farmer Boy & Sarah's Wish)
  • Young Scholar's Guide to the Composers - Handel
  • Work boxes
Lego-Man's boxes:
  1. Handwriting
  2. Sign language file folder (matching ABC signs to letters)
  3. Writing Journal
  4. Play Simon Says for 10 minutes (he led Miss H & Happy in a game - they all loved it)
  5. Private Devotions (The boys are reading through some Illustrated Children's Bible books I have - they are like comic books with illustrations but use real Bible text. Lego-Man is reading Genesis.)
  6. Candy Factory file folder game (counting change)
  7. Computer Pages (from
  8. Math-U-See (tests 1 & 2)
  9. Nature journal (draw a fall leaf)
  10. Quarter Mile Math drill (16 minutes)
  11. Awana verses (15 minutes)
  12. Assigned Reading (The Hobbit) for 30 minutes
  13. Create a Fire Escape plan
He spent the afternoon continuing on his research project. He wants a small pet. I have told him to do all the research on what kind, what they need to live and eat, and how much it will cost. Then he can present his case to his dad & I. He's spending hours working on it.

Conductor's Boxes:
  1. Handwriting
  2. Watch sign language video (ABC's)
  3. Writing journal
  4. Ride bike outside for 10 minutes
  5. Buried Treasure file folder game
  6. AWANA verses (15 minutes)
  7. Private devotions (15 minutes)
  8. Nature journal - draw a fall leaf
  9. Quarter Mile Math drill (15 minutes)
  10. Math-U-See - tests 1 & 2
  11. Create a Fire Escape Plan
  12. Assigned Reading (30 minutes) The Stolen Train

Miss H did this:
  • colored some stickers
  • played in the rice box for the first time - loved it
  • played Simon Says with Lego-Man & Happy (one of Lego-Man's things to do for his work box)
  • Watched a VeggieTale video
Happy was allowed to do mostly free play today. I'll be working on his work boxes tonight & we'll add them to the mix tomorrow.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Day #28/175 Days - Fire Station Tour

We did this tour about three years ago. I have photos of Happy standing in one of the tires & it was taller than he was. Now he's taller than the tires. ;-)

The Madison Fire Department is a local one to us & is a volunteer department. The closest full-time fire department is about an hour away. This particular station has a Junior Axillary made up of high school student who want to be fire firefighters. They are the ones that did the tour for us. At the end, their instructor did a talk on fire safety.

All the kids had a great time & my boys enjoyed it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Day #27/175 Days

We're back to school! Well, sort of. I'm still wanting to implement workboxes for all the boys but it's a very time consuming process to put together. More on that later. Right now I only have Ben set up & not fully the way I would like. But it's working today so far.

We began the morning with Circle Time. This included:

  • Farmer Boy (read aloud 2 chapters)
  • Sarah's Wish (a TOS selection - review up next week)
  • Popcorn Prayer
  • Star Spangled Banner
  • Pledge of Allegiance
  • Blessed Assurance (our hymn we're working on)
  • 24 family ways - we sang The Wise Man Built His House
  • Read Proverbs 14
  • Continuing to learn to sign John 3:16 - we'll go until we can all do this without looking.
Our "School Together" time continued with two TOS selections I'm reviewing from Bright Ideas Press. The first is called Over Our Heads in Wonder (science) - We learned about air & did an experiment with candles. I lit a candle & then put a metal pan on top. We watched as it went out & talked about why it did. Then I had Conductor try to blow it out by blowing on the jar - straight at it - rather than from the top. Again, we talked about why this doesn't work.

The second book (which I really like) is called Young Scholar's Guide to Composers. We read about Vivaldi today and did some of the activities in the book while we listened to his Four Seasons play on YouTube.

While the big boys & I worked on this, Happy & Miss H worked on the own things. I was able to pick up (with the help of my sister) a great little table that works great for these two. It was at The Christmas Tree Shop & it has a wipe off surface & two chairs.

Happy did these:
Miss H did these:
  • colored her stickers (I can't find where I saw these on the web but I ran them through my Xyron 150 machine turning them in to her own stickers. She LOVED these!)
  • animal magnet match
  • Busy Bugs (Discover Toy)
  • wooden puzzles (Melissa & Doug)

Lunch break

Lego-Man than began working on his workboxes. This was our first day trying this. He had nine "boxes" (I'm actually using gallon ziplock bags but may switch) to complete. They held:
  1. Private Devotions
  2. Math
  3. Writing Journal
  4. AWANA
  5. Sign language DVD - working on the ABC's
  6. Quarter Mile Math drill practice
  7. Assigned reading
  8. Computer pages to read & do some questions on
  9. Famous person report for photography class
Conductor did similar activities but without the workboxes. He completed:
  • Private Devotions
  • Math
  • Writing Journal
  • Quarter Mile Math drill practice
  • Assigned reading
Happy also did:
  • Private Devotions
  • Math
  • Parking Patterns file folder game
  • Some pages in a kindergarten workbook
It was at that point that I realized Happy wasn't feeling good & needed to go lay down. He woke up with a fever three hours later. It seems the winter cold season has started here.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Day #26/175 Days - LC Bates

Today was our 3rd class at the LC Bates Natural History Museum. It's really a very unique museum for this area of the state. If you live locally, I consider it a must see.

The class today was on insects. We started upstairs viewing some wasp nests. They were pretty impressive.

We also stopped here for a bit to look at this insect collection. This cabinet houses a pretty extensive collection. It was built (the cabinet & the collection) by a woman from Maine (I can't remember her name) who lived in the late 1800's. Her doctor had told her that for health reasons she should spend as much time outside as she possibly could. Thus began her hobby of collecting & cataloging insects that lived near her.

We also checked out some more collections upstairs as well as some photographs. This one is pretty cool.

It's a wasp nest built around an existing bird house.

We then headed downstairs to the classroom. This is where the real fun begins for the kids I think. Serena, our guide & teacher, does a really wonderful job making the subject come alive for the kids. Here is a photo of Conductor & his cousin demonstrating how the wings of a dragonfly work.

There were also a lot of preserved specimens that were handed round for closer inspection.

Dead-leaf moth

Giant Katydid

Serena also does a good job of breaking up the class time so that the kids (mostly boys!) are not sitting for 30 minutes or more. Here is a photo of Lego-Man, Happy & another little boy from class demonstrating how an insects legs move. Can you see how Serena is holding her fingers off to the side? The trick here was that Lego-Man was to move in the opposite direction from Happy & the other boy. I never realized that is how an insect moves. This is another reason why I do enjoy these classes.

Then at the end of the class time, there is usually some sort of hands-on thing for the kids to do - usually. Serena had lots of bug glasses for the kids to try out. Here is Lego-Man sporting a pair.

Then she had rubbing plates of various insects. Even Miss H got to do this one.

Happy showing his ant eye glasses.

Conductor is wearing some 3D glasses. They had some large cards with various insect parts on them that showed up in 3D with the glasses.

All-in-all the kids enjoy the class (even if they have to grumble about going...but we'll leave names out here). I should also mention that Lego-Man took most of these photos (except for the last few). We look forward to our next one in a few weeks.