Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Blue

A poem by Chloe Ness

Blue is the water.
Blue is the sky.
Blue are my eyes.
Blue is a blueberry pie.
Blue smells like berries.
Blue feels like a soft kitten.
Blue looks like a flowing stream.
Blue makes me cold.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Creative Writing

I love how completely random Chloe is in her creativity. She possesses quite the imagination for a five year old little girl. Granted, I do not have an extensive knowledge of five year old imagination capacities, but I like to think that I do not inhibit her imagination, rather I allow it room to grow.

Here are a couple of stories Chloe wrote during school the past couple of months. Keep in mind that I do not help her at all. She just says what pops into her little noggin and I write it down.

VETRINARIAN
Every morning I drive to my vetrinarian office in a building in the city. I give medicine to animals like goats, rabbits, pigs and cows. People call on the telephone with sick animals. I say, "Come to my building. I will fix them."

One day there comes a king with a sick dragon. He blew fire at me, but it didn't touch me because I ducked my head. He had too much fire. I poured water on the dragon to put the fire out.


That's just how Chloe writes. She starts out quite normal and then BAM! the story changes dramatically into something purely from fairyland. Sometimes her stories only make sense to her, but there is no reasoning. This is how things happen in her world. Take, for instance, her Whale of a Tale.

WHALE OF A TALE
A whale had a tail but it didn't really have a tail because it couldn't swim. he tried to swim. He tried and tried and tried. Then he got to swim. And then he got caught in a net. And then a swordfish cut the net. The whale said, "Thank you." Then the whale went back home.

We have filled our homeschool journey up with so many things and events that I am dying to write about. I must save it for another post though. Hopefully I can get another one up today. We shall see how fruitful that effort turns out to be.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Art and HomeEc Projects

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Today we finished a labor intensive art project. Little did I know when we began this particular project that it would take us more than an hour to complete it. (and two days too...) Chloe was glad when she finally finished her construction paper mosiac. I think she felt proud of herself for persevering. I think.

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I had her draw simple shapes onto a piece of cardstock and then glue squares she cut out last Friday into her shapes. She choose circles. I found it fascinatingly curious that after she was finished, the picture minutely resembled a flower.

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Funny how art can do that. I explained that (in a different context) to Chloe today as she was fussing that her squares were "falling off the lines" (or not staying in the shapes). I told her that there are never mistakes in art. We work within a certain context but sometimes other things happen and that is what makes art unique.

I explained it again when we made these adorable paper bag trees.

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This project came from....yes....you guessed it...Kinderart again. (have you clued into the fact that I love this website yet?)

Last week we were "supposed to" start our sewing lessons for Home Ec. Well, somehow I forgot to do it so I got out the supplies today and we had our sewing lesson. I am using the lessons I found on Kids Sewing Projects. I love to sew, yet somehow when I begin to teach someone else how to sew, or crochet, or knit...I am unable to break down the steps simple enough for a beginner. This website does just that for me. I taught Chloe how to thread a large needle with yarn and then had her practice a running stitch around the edge of some plastic canvas. She did fabulous!

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I love seeing her little fingers work so delicately. Someday those fingers are going to be the size of mine. That thought makes me want to cry. I love her little hands so much. I think I need to make one of those plaster molds of her hands or something. She is growing up way too fast.

Anyways, I have more to talk about in another post tomorrow. I am off to bed now. Enjoy each moment the Lord gives you. Thank Him for today. For this moment.

Oh...I almost forgot. I made myself a little mosaic as well. It seems to help Chloe focus on her projects when I sit alongside her and create one as well.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Week 5 Review

At this point, I am so far behind in posting about our homeschooling journey through kindergarten that I figured I better just start with some thing simple before I get so far behind I quit blogging about it all together.

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It is Friday and I sit here amazed that we have just finished 5 weeks of school. Yes! FIVE WEEKS! (some counties near me don't even start til this next week while some started this past week) Where has the time gone? We are both loving kindergarten. Preschool was okay...just okay. But kindergarten is where it is happening. Yes sire. The fun has begun!

Every morning after Bible, we put in our cd with the Bible verses in song and we dance around the room to the song a couple of times. Chloe reminds me to play the cd if ever I happen to forget this important part of our day. She loves dancing with me. Dancing to music has always been a fun part of our relationship. I love hearing her giggle and laugh as we dance, sometimes slow and graceful like ballerinas and sometimes silly and goofy. Sometimes it turns in to a chasing game and every once in a while escalates into an all out tickle war. (never, NEVER, never during school time though... School is serious business!)

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One of our science projects this week involved placing a stalk of celery into a cup of water with a few drops of blue food coloring in it. The purpose was to see that plants soak up water to their leaves to drink.

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I couldn't believe it when it worked. It really did! Amazing! We now have blue celery!

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We finished reading My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett today and I just have to say something about this book.

We do a lot of reading in this house. When I say a lot, I mean A LOT! I have always loved reading books to Chloe from the time she was a day old. I just love reading. She has grown up loving books. She adores them. She spends hours at a time just thumbing through her books to look at the pictures. She loves books. Her favorites have always been the simple board books or Little Golden Books. She loves the stories of Mama's and their babies. She loves baby animals. She loves anything baby-ish. Chapter books? Not so much.

Last year, with preschool, there weren't very many books that sparked her interest. She listened because she "had to". That changed this year with My Father's Dragon. She actually wanted me to read the entire book over again tonight with her friend visiting. She loved it that much. Each day, when it was time to read aloud, she would race to the bookshelf to grab this book. She would tell her Daddy about it at the end of the day. She couldn't wait to get to the end of the book.

I LOVE THIS!!! I love to see her actually excited about a book. And not just her favorite book that takes less than 3 minutes to read, but an actual chapter book. I just needed to say that about this book.

Moving on. I love the ideas Sonlight includes in their Language Arts program. Everything is so intricately woven together. I am amazed. But one of my favorite parts of the program are the little games they include in the curriculum. The ideas to make LA fun. My daughter latched onto these things and on some days they are what keeps us sane. She now looks forward to LA instead of dreading it. Its fantastic.

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Here we are, spelling words on the fridge.

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Another instant favorite was introduced to us this week. Sight Word Bingo!

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Now I have Chloe asking me, "Mama? You know that game we played for school? Can we play that again? It was fun!"

Imagine that!

Even our Math is incorporating fun things. I just have to plan at least a week in advance so I can make sure I have the supplies on hand to do the activities. (No Teacher's Manual with our Singapore K Math program.)

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Here I gave her a pile of cards with dots from 1-10 and she had to sort them into order and then write the correct numbers underneath each one.

Today we started an art book I found on Kinderart. It is pretty basic and I am debating going through with my one page a week plan. We might just make the entire book next week, call it good and then do some painting projects for the following weeks.

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I had Chloe draw a picture of something related to our homeschooling. She could draw a picture of her getting ready for school or eating breakfast before school or something like that. The assignment on the website was to draw a picture of how you got to school. We modified it. Chloe decided to draw a picture of me reading the Bible to her.

The second page we talked about the three primary colors and I traced her hands for her to color. She glued the printed sheet down and then glued the entire page onto construction paper. I plan on laminating each page when the book is done. We actually used real drawing paper for the white pages.

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Because this project was so basic, I decided to start another project. I cannot show you everything since we are not finished yet. So, I will give you a sneak peak at what we worked on. I will show you the rest next week.

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I am going to try harder to post more regularly. I have so much more to share but this post is quite long enough as it is, so I will save it for another day. Have a fantastic weekend. Get out and enjoy some fresh air and spend some time in God's wonderful and miraculous creation!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Science Projects

Here are some pictures of a few science projects we have made in the past couple of weeks.

First up is our volcano. Chloe picked some "trees" from our yard to put on her green mountain. She did her best to form the clay onto the soda bottle in the shape of a mountain with a tad bit of my help.

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After adding the "special mixture" to the bottle we watched our volcano explode red lava.

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It happened so fast that I fear we missed the initial "blowing up" but luckily I caught it on video so we were able to watch it after we cleaned up the mess from my kitchen floor.

During our study of wind and air, we made a windsock. Chloe loved this simple project. She could handle most of the components herself and she enjoyed watching her "creation" blow in the wind.

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She saw the tails fly up during lunch after we hung it and she gasped, "Look, Mama! A hurricane!" I was pleased to inform her that while it was wind moving her windsock we were not in the middle of a hurricane. I told her that if it were a hurricane, her windsock would be blown to Canada and our shed would not be standing there. She felt completely comforted by my declaration.

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Another favorite project was the fossils we made. I substituted the clay recipe in the curriculum for one on the internet because I didn't have enough salt. This one worked fine for our purpose. Chloe collected items from our backyard to make fossils of.

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We have yet to paint the fossils because I think Chloe likes them white. We enjoyed seeing what the impression of each item was. More often than not, it wasn't the impression we thought it would be. The shell was the hardest one to get. It ended up not looking like a shell in the fossil. The flowers and leaves gave the best impressions. My personal favorite was the Dusty Miller leaf.

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I have been quite impressed (no pun intended) with the science projects included in the Sonlight K curriculum this year. They have yielded positive results and many ear to ear grins and smiles from my daughter. I can't wait to see what else our kindergarten year has for us. Its been an exciting 4 weeks.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Roman Dinner

We are reading through the book "Living Long Ago" for history and this week have been learning about the Romans. Yesterday we learned how they cooked, ate and the foods they prepared. Inspiration struck when I saw the picture of the Romans lying on the couches surrounding the table spread with food. Ahhhh...we should have ourselves a Roman Dinner Party!

I quickly ran to the store last night (at 5 pm) and picked up some things to create our roman meal. I didn't have time to actually cook the things myself so I bought the best that Safeway carried. I did, however, find time to sew up some tunics and even a toga for James to wear. (Romans who could afford meat and cheese and vegetables were considered rich...the pour people lived off bread and porridge made from wheat. Seeing that we would have been considered "rich" I felt it appropriate to force ask James to wear a toga.)

Roman meals were served in 3 courses. Here was our first course which consisted of boiled eggs, "salad", bread and wine (grape juice for us).

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Our main course consisted primarily of roast chicken, courtesy of Safeway. Now I planned on having fish as well, but I read the 8 minute cooking time for the wrong recipe and my particular recipe needed 30 minutes. Sooo...we just ate chicken.

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Now, you must keep in mind that the Romans did not use utensils to eat, unless it was an occasional spoon. So we ate with our fingers as well. We also included a bowl of water to wash our fingers in. Chloe thought this quite exciting and asked if we could have a Roman Dinner Party every night.

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For dessert we tasted fruit, nuts and honey cakes. Now the honey cakes we made ourselves. I used a recipe in my Better Baking Cookbook that states its a traditional Jewish recipe for honey cakes. I figured since it was a Jewish recipe, it couldn't be very far off from the Roman version so that is what we ate. I love it. The recipe called for Whiskey and since I didn't have any, I substituted some Brandy I had in my cupboard from a few years ago when I attempted to make Sugarplums. They turned out delicious.

James finally got into the spirit of our party midway and he even complimented me on it while crawling into bed last night. Wow! It was fun and memorable. I hope it helps Chloe remember the Romans. It was fun but I highly doubt we will be eating like that every night. We dropped quite a few pieces of food on my carpet.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Circumventing the LA Tears

For the first week and a half of kindergarten, tears reigned when it came time for Language Arts. I chose to start Chloe off with the first grade LA course instead of the kindergarten because she knows all of her letters and letter sounds and could even read small words. (She read Dick and Jane to me after I coerced her to sit down and try...she read it all) So, I knew she could read.

When it came time to read the short sentences with small words in her reader, she would get halfway through the assignment and then the tears would start flowing. Slowly, at first and then gaining velocity and sound as I calmly tried to explain how to "sound out" each letter. Oh my goodness! What is a Mama to do? I KNEW she could read the word because it would have been a word she read 3-4 times already in the previous 1 minute. The problem was not the level of reading we were at. It was either a lack of confidence or, worse, strong will. I leaned toward the latter.

A friend of mine visited us one day during our second week of school to appraise the situation. She taught 3rd grade last year in the public school system and I knew she could offer me suggestions.

First, she suggested I switch the order of our subjects. I started the day with Bible and then we worked on Math and Handwriting. We take a 15 minute break and then head on into Language Arts. She suggested I schedule LA first thing (after Bible, of course) so that Chloe is fresh and vibrant for that subject. She noted that in her experience, whatever subject she taught first thing in the morning, that would be the subject her classroom of children excelled in. So, I switched the order of our day.

Her other suggestion and probably the one which yielded the most fruit and the least amount of tears (because she, too, felt that this was an issue of "I don't want to do this any more" and strong will) was a reward chart. Okay. Simple enough, right? Well, the problem lies in the fact that we home school and already use reward charts for our regular life. We needed a way to distinguish this from our regular, every day rewards. So, she told me of a reward chart she implemented with one of her students last year.

The chart is a grid. She earns stickers to fill up the grid. Mine is 6 squares across and 7 lines deep.

I picked 3 items I expect from Chloe.

1. Finish the task. (I work her through some breathing exercises and have her say Philippians 4:13 a couple of times when she starts getting worked up over something)

2. Do her best. If I know she can do something better, she doesn't get a sticker.

3. No complaining.

For each task Chloe finishes, adhering to the three expectations I have outlined, she receives a sticker to put on her grid. When she fills up an entire row, she gets a reward. Once she earns that reward, we cross it off and she can't use it again for that grid. I have two sets of grids and rewards and I mix them up. She also has the potential of earning more than one reward in a day, if she works hard at each task. I even give her stickers for tasks that she does well anyways, not just LA tasks. Here is a list of some of the rewards I offer her.

Frozen Yogurt
prize from my goodie box (this is another incentive reward for her household chores)
Color with Mama (10 minutes)
Play Hide and Seek (10 minutes)
Puppet Show (10 minutes)
Read 3 books
Play bowling (10 minutes)
Play in sandbox (10 minutes)
go to McDonalds for ice cream (after school is over)
Be teacher for 10 minutes (she gets to teach me!)
Put a puzzle together

Now this is not all of our rewards but it will give you an idea of some of the things she enjoys. Most of these are instant. The minute she earns that sticker, we halt school and do the activity right then and there. Its immediate. I think that is the power of this method. Also, most of these items are done with me. That holds the most incentive for her...to spend fun time with Mama. And so far it has worked like a charm. We have far fewer tears, if any at all, and she is a much happier reader. I have even caught her reading almost every day out of her school book reader. It's been wonderful.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

A Few Projects

I am so far behind in posting on this blog. I am terribly sorry.

We started our fourth week of school today and I thought I would quickly share some pictures of the past three weeks with you. I will have more to talk about tomorrow (I hope) but hopefully you will enjoy a few pictures in the meantime.

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Princess Chloe counts bowling pins for math. We took turns throwing one across the yard and then counting how many were left. She found this quite fun.

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Another math activity she found fun was counting out stickers and tacking them onto a picture I printed off the internet and cut out. (I used basic coloring pages that can be found using google.)

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For history we learned about the early man and the different things they ate and tools they used and whatnot. We made a coracle, which is a boat made from the skin of an animal and stretched over a frame. Chloe immediately wanted to know if it would float and so we tested it in a sink full of water. We both cheered when our pipe cleaner/plastic garbage sack boat actually floated.

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I didn't have the cork to make an early man necklace so I just found some wooden beads from my crafting stash and I had Chloe lace them onto a piece of thread. She loves this sort of thing and I don't think she minded one bit that I didn't provide "authentic" supplies.

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This chalkboard desk sure comes in handy, quite a bit. I am so glad we purchased it last year. I have her write her spelling words on it once it a week, just to change up the pace. She can write them as big or as little as she wants. Needless to say, she takes up the entire desk, most of the time.

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Chloe loves the science experiments this year. We had a paper race our first week of school. Chloe's paper won. Mine blew into my flip flops, which I accidentally left by the back door in the kitchen, and got stuck.

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We studied the weather for a couple of weeks and on the day we learned about the four seasons, I had Chloe paint a picture of what she thought each season would look like in our neighborhood. She loves fall and so she painted two squares fall and forgot a summer square. When I questioned her on the white square she left blank, she nonchalantly informed me that it was snowing on that square.

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We made a weather vane and I have to say, this might just be Chloe's favorite activity so far. She loved putting this one together and watching the wind blow the arrow around.

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Of course, I can't forget the tornado in a bottle. This was another one of Chloe's favorites. She still plays with it, a week later. I have been kind of amazed that our science experiments have actually been working. Its been wonderful to see her eyes light up when something amazing happens right in front of her. It might be a little something, but it is still amazing.

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Two weeks ago, for art, I had Chloe close her eyes and imagine she were taking an adventure. Where would she go? How would she get there? Who would she meet when she arrived? What would she do when she stayed there?

She imagined herself flying in an airplane to a park far away, one which she has never been to before. She would meet new friends and they would swing on the swings and slide down the slide together. I then instructed her to draw her adventure on a piece of paper. I taught her how to draw various things on scratch paper before she attempted her final version on the "real" paper. We had a few tears with this project. She longed to draw an airplane but cried when she couldn't do it "right". I worked her through some simple steps and she was quite pleased with her final project. She came up with the trees at her park by herself. I was quite impressed, actually.

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Weaving Watercolor. This has to be my favorite art project we have ever made. I loved it. (I made one myself too. he he he) I told Chloe to pick a shape (circle) and then using watercolor paints, she needed to paint a circle in all the colors of the color wheel. (I only included Primary and Secondary colors for her.) For her first painting she needed to use the colors in order around the wheel. I gave her freedom to use whatever colors she wanted on the second painting. After they dried, we cut them and wove them together. Even though this project took quite a bit of time, Chloe says she loved it.

I must be off now. We have had a busy day and I need some sleep. Hopefully, tomorrow I will be able to find some time to share with you a wonderful idea a friend of mine came up with to solve our problem with tears during language arts. Have a wonderful week!