Tag Archives: homeschool

Bespoke Kitty

For art and crafts this week, Ellie wanted to sew something with the machine. Really she wanted to sew a dress for herself, but I convinced her that was a big project and we should wait for summer when there was more time. We made this instead.

Mimi the Kitty.

Mimi the Kitty.

She embroidered the face and pinned everything up on her own. There was a fair amount of scaffolding for the sewing parts (I really made the pattern too small for her to sew independently I’ll know better next time) but she pressed the pedal and guided the fabric as much as possible. The cat parts are craft felt and Mimi’s body is fabric left over from some of Tiny Ellie’s homemade PJ pants.

We should make PJ pants!
There’s only one curved seam!

I stumbled on the cat doll idea looking for beginner sewing projects, and of course I can’t find it now. My web history doesn’t go back to last weekend apparently. Thank you, anonymous stranger!

What We Do About Math

Ellie is a HUGE fan of math. This makes perfect sense to me: Math is cool. Oak Meadow Grade 2 is purposefully flexible about how much and how complicated math practice can be – the idea is to tailor the experience to the student’s needs/development/attentiveness. There is also lots of ‘mental’ math encouragement. Our mental math practice tends to be everyday math: Do I have enough cash to buy bread AND a Snickers? How many cookies can I have if I have to share? If I double this recipe, is there enough peanut butter for lunch tomorrow? Funny how most of my everyday math has to do with snacks. The Big Concepts we’ve covered in Oak Meadow Grade 2 are a super-thorough understanding of place value (you can’t get far without it), carrying/borrowing (‘regrouping’ if you’re younger than I am), and learning multiplication tables up to 12.

Oh, those crazy multiplication tables. Ellie’s true math love is problem solving, not repetition and memorization. Flash cards and chanting x tables are a quick trip to Crazy Town with bonus gnashing of teeth. Besides, she’s got all of third grade and the first bit of fourth grade to really, truly internalize the multiplication tables before getting to long division. I would MUCH rather have her really, truly internalize multiplication tables instead of *memorize and then forget repeat from * to end of row. So here’s what we’re doing:

I got the idea (and the handprint printables) here – but it occurred to me that the big, precut shapes from the Dollar Store (in the school section) would have been cheaper and easier. I picked some up for when I run out of the hand prints. As Ellie learns a fact, I take it off of the wall. When there are no more facts on the wall, we eat ice cream and add a new set of facts. I only put up the ones she doesn’t know. Because of the commutative property of multiplication (look at me showing off!) 3×4=12 appears in x3 and x4, but there’s no reason to learn it twice. The non-aggressive repetition is ideal.

She only had to learn two facts for the 11s, but ice cream is ice cream.

She only had to learn two facts for x11, but a scoop is a scoop is a scoop.

When people love something (chocolate, yarn, stuffed animals) it’s hard for them to get enough. Which is why we also have “recreational” math in the form of Life of Fred.

These are the 10 books in the Elementary Series.  Fred goes all the way to Calculus.

These are the 10 books in the Elementary Series. Life of Fred goes all the way to Calculus.

The main character, Fred Gauss, is a five year old math professor at KITTENS University. Seriously. He has a doll named Kingie. Kingie is a prolific (and profitable) artist. Just a few chapters ago Fred also acquired a goldfish named Fish. Ellie successfully calculated the volume of Fish’s new tank. Fred’s narrative has taught Ellie: carrying, borrowing, ordinal numbers, telling time, prepositions, adjectives, geometry, area, volume, cardinality of sets, and is working on her multiplication. There’s more, that’s just all I can think of right now. Ellie begs for more Fred. BEGS.

To sum up

(hahah I am SO FUNNY)

Math = Good
More Math = Better

Since I haven’t seen it mentioned in any reviews and I know some folks prefer to avoid any religious references in their school materials: {God} appears as an example of a set with one member, it is mentioned that Fred attends Sunday School, and there are a few other references that indicate Fred’s personal religious preference. Typically, religious overtones in a text book bug me. If I’m going to teach religion I will teach religion not religion-disguised-as-something-else thank you very much. I don’t feel like that is what’s going on here. Life of Fred is a story about Fred so the things Fred is invested in (Kingie, pets, Euclid, Sunday School) are just part of the narrative.

Ten Weeks To Go

How many more times we can use the little plastic animals in the last 10 weeks of Oak Meadow Grade 2?

Science Last Week: How people use animals.  (fiber animals included)

Science Last Week: How people use animals. (fiber animals included)

Ellie finished her embroidery project.

Time to get a frame!

Time to get a frame!

We’ve also been carrying and borrowing in math (regrouping). We’ve covered all the multiplication tables up to 12 (Ellie has learned 2, 10, 4, 3, 11, and we’re working on 5 – all without stress or memorizing for a test yay), food chains, economics (money v. bartering), scarcity, animal tracks and locomotion, opinion writing, narrative writing, book summaries, descriptive writing, and have read all the things and then some. She makes associations between the content we’ve covered and her experiences in the outside world. Her writing is uh…substantial, so we’ve talked about topic sentences, supporting sentences, and conclusions to help her better organize her ideas (not in the Grade 2 curriculum – don’t stress). Her spelling has been the most surprising improvement for me (without weekly spelling tests and memorization yay) – lots of writing gives a person time to internalize spelling.

This is the BEST EVER. Happy Pi Day!

(we had key lime)

People Tank is Full


Our social calendar generally has one or two events each week. If anyone feels that is sparse, this week should make you feel better about our “sociability*”: three separate friend visits (one is happening right now), a field trip with our homeschool group, Christmas Parade! (Girl Scouts), homeschool play group, and a birthday party.

Making the decorations for the side of the float.

Making the decorations for the side of the float. We thought it might be a World Record.

And a complete week of school work.

To carry or not to carry.  That is the question.

To carry or not to carry. That is the question.

I’m worn out.

*The lack of “socialization” is one of the biggest homeschool myths I’ve ever heard. A) Does every adult you know work/live/exist in an environment populated by people grouped by the sole virtue of their date of birth? B) If mainstream schools were better at socialization, they wouldn’t have to work as hard on anti-bullying programs. C) “Socialization” doesn’t mean what most people think it means.

Weekly Wrap Up: Catching Up to Lesson 14

We’d fallen into a nice comfortable pattern during our school weeks. Then came Thanksgiving. I am coming around to the opinion that there shouldn’t be school between Thanksgiving and New Year’s – there’s just way too much other stuff happening.

I put together a school schedule for the week ahead on Sunday afternoon when I make all of my notes and complete the lesson assessment for the week before. This is what next week looks like right now:

Click to embiggen.

Click to embiggen. My more detailed notes about the assignments are also on the clipboard but you can’t see them from here.

You’ve got no idea how much it bugs me that I couldn’t find a weekly calendar pad that starts with Sunday. Gah. Anyway, if you give that image a click and study it, you’ll see that it’s mostly neat and tidy. Crowded in places because we have a field trip on Wednesday and Play Group Friday afternoon, but generally well-sorted. I try to leave Friday afternoon light in case anything needs more time. If we have stuff to do on Saturday, I try to make it art.

For Reference, this is a Typical Day: Once everyone is up (around 7:30 – wake up times start with me at 4:30), we have breakfast, do chores and run errands if needed. Then Ellie and I head to school for an hour or so (10:00-11:00), and then come down for lunch. We take a break until around 1 (piano is practiced during this time) and then go back to school for a couple more hours.

There are no typical days right now. This is what last week’s schedule looked like by the end of the week:

Once again, click to embiggen.

Once again, click to embiggen.

So many changes (and you’ll notice that last week also had a field trip in it – the week before was a field trip to the maritime museum). It is my personal belief that starting with a Plan makes it easier (and less frustrating) to be flexible when the situation calls for it. Plus you still know what all you need to get done when the dust settles.

I keep old schedules in a three-ring binder with all of Ellie’s rough drafts and anything else (math pages) from the week that doesn’t end up in the main lesson books. I also keep all my completed lesson assessments and weekly checklists provided in the Oak Meadow curriculum, as well as the assessments and grades from her Oak Meadow teacher in the same binder.

Language Arts has continued the review of consonant blends, switching to word family review over the past couple weeks (I bet there’s more poetry soon). Reading comprehension, reading aloud, writing, and speaking/performance work continues as usual. Descriptive and opinion paragraphs are now included as writing assignments. Note: Ellie doesn’t particularly like the physical act of writing, so I spread the big assignments out as much as I can. I typically have her do the rough draft one day and then the final draft the next. She has been writing the rough drafts of her story summary paragraphs independently for a couple months now (that was one of me Secret Goals for before Christmas). I check for spelling and grammar before she rewrites them in her Language Arts Lesson Book. One of the things I’ve just started making is a word list of anything she might need to spell while she’s working (character names and words she doesn’t use regularly or can’t sound out). Since they are new and different, we’ve been planning the opinion paragraphs ahead on the white board – typically just a numbered list of pros and cons. She uses the notes to compose her paragraph.

She wrote 'likes' and 'dislikes' I took dictation for the notes.

She wrote ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ I took dictation for the notes.

Math has focused on multiplication facts, place value (to the millions), and (after all the place value) carrying the one (regrouping) in addition. Carrying is a struggle for a lot of kids (according to the internet reading I did while looking for worksheets so I didn’t have to make problems up that week) – it’s hard to understand when to stick that one over there and when to not. I used Lego Duplo blocks so she could actually carry stacks of ten around. Ellie never had any doubt about when or why to regroup. In Ellie’s case, I don’t know that she actually needed the manipuatives to get it, she’s got a solid concept of numbers (but Legos are fun so whatever). Just to double check, I’ve got a to-group-or-not-to-group math sorting activity for Monday.

Carrying that 10 over to where it belongs.

Carrying that 10 over to where it belongs. Afterwards you can play with the Legos.

We covered cotyledons in Science (perfect timing since the fall garden stuff was just coming up) and Ellie designed a garden. After that it’s been all critters with squirrels, 20 different animal cards to complete, and the creation of a book about a particular animal. I love it when Oak Meadow does the little research projects! We took a trip to the library to check out everything they had about rabbits and then Ellie went through the books to answer the questions/requirements on the white board.

I love the white board.  Love it.

I love the white board. Love it.

Then she turned each category into an illustrated page for her book.

Some illustrations are more Complex than others.

Some illustrations are more Complex than others. These rabbits have an enormous pantry.

Social Studies has been map focused with an emphasis on climate as it relates to distance from the equator. Ellie loves maps, the globe, the atlas, the compass, all that stuff. We’ve revisited Africa to study the relationship between climate and culture (this lined up nicely with the Chocolate exhibit field trip last week), and have identified all the continents and oceans.

Art has been clay, choose your own adventure like the walnut boats (last week I helped her sew a simple skirt), and the creation of a wall calendar for 2016 (one month each week). Health’s emphasis is on nutrition so we spent some time with the vegetarian food pyramid and next week she gets to cook lunch on the stove top! Piano lessons continue in place of the recorder for music.

Full weeks but really good.