Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Science! Flowers and Pollination


We reviewed our Flowers and Pollination lesson yesterday...getting ready for our test.  I thought it would be interesting to show how I've adapted the lesson to incorporate Thomas, too.  Obviously, I don't expect him to remember some of the more scientific names.  But, he does really understand the material.  With him I've focused on pollen, stem, roots, petals, leaf, seed, male parts, female parts, and pollination.  I expect Genna to know the rest!  Having said that...I review this material with both of them and Thomas is learning even more than I expect!  :)

Through this science lesson we've labeled diagrams, observed pollination in progress in our own garden,  watched educational videos about pollination and plant reproduction.  It is all very interesting!  The kids are loving it.  :)

If you'd like to do this with your kids over the summer it is really easy to find great material online.  I just googled "parts of the flower" and found lots of free lessons and videos.  From that I created a study guide and a diagram for Genna.  She used the printed information (2 pages) to find answers to the study guide questions.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Disturbing Statistic

     I heard a former School Superintendent from D.C. on CNN the other night say that our kids are part of the first generation of children who are being less educated than their parents!  Well...first I felt a bit of relief because I could simply say, "Not my kids!"  However, I then thought of the vast majority of my friends and loved ones who are going to be effected by this ugly truth.  Because, the fact is that after the last 132 lessons I've done with my own children, I absolutely believe this statistic to be true and rather scary!  There is simply no way that one teacher could cover the material I've covered with 20+ students at once!  Not without help.

     How are things in our world going to get better if our kids are even dumber than us?  LOL  I'm being silly, and I don't think our kids (as a collective society) are going to be dumb.  But, there is some truth in my jest.  We are in such a mess right now and I was hoping that the next generation would be a reliable "plan C" for fixing things if we (the "plan B" 30/40 something parents) can't find a way to do it!  Let's face it...the "plan A" group is not doing the best job.

     There are lots of theories out there as to why this lack of education is happening.  I have a few thoughts myself.  One of them being that teachers (I've talked with some) feeling that they are forced to "dumb down" their curriculum because it would be too challenging for some of the kids.  I'm all for equal treatment, but it is a sad day when the bar gets lowered for fear that someone will be offended that their child can't reach it.  Everyone can't be completely equal in smarts or finances!  Someone has to dig the ditches and someone has to do the heart surgery.

     Another theory is that it has to do with costs of education.  I guess I can understand this, but I'm not buying it.  Others think it is because of distractions like video games, computers, TV, etc.

     Personally, I think that some societal woes are reeking more havoc than anyone has realized.

     There are two main societal problems.  One is the broken down family unit.  Simple as that.  I know several amazing single parents (you know who you are), and I simply don't know how they do it!  I cannot fathom being single and working and struggling and then coming home to homework.  The divorce rate is astronomically high because of immoral behaviors.  I'm in no way saying that no one should get a divorce.  I'm saying that so often people make choices that are immoral and subsequently their marriage ends in divorce.  To me it shows the kids that you can make very important promises and then break them because of something that is more attractive at that moment.  In other words, you do not have to commit and remain committed.  To anything.  Even one of the most important promises ever!  So, why would the kids be compelled to commit to education?

     Which brings me to my next reason...materialism.  People are too materialistic.  I don't care what kind of shoes you wear or car you drive or how big your house is!  I want to see families that are good and solid!  Whether you live in a shack or a mansion...a solid family is more important.  I'm so lucky to be home with my kids.  And, I'm not going to lie...I really wish that more moms or dads would make the same choice to be home with their kids.  It's a huge responsibility!  And in many ways I'm not successful.  I don't always lead as a great example.  But I try.  And, ultimately, I feel that my kids are growing to understand the commitment I've made to them.  The same way I look back and remember that my mom made the same choice and Kevin's mom did, too.  And again...there I am...back at commitment.

      Our kids need to be shown that we should treat one another with respect, but also that it's okay for some people to be neurological surgeons while others contribute to society in another way that happens to require less education.  And that in order to do anything well in life, it requires commitment.  

     Last night Genna, Kevin and I were watching "Father of the Bride" and at the end Genna was crying.  I asked her why and she told us "Because, I can't imagine leaving you!"  THAT is solid.  THAT is richness!  THAT is a blessing like no other.  She is committed to us!  :)

Seriously...I never expected "Straight A" kids!

Call me crazy, but I never expected this...and I also don't pressure them at all about their grades!  They are earning A's across the board because, guess what....they know the material!  I just put together their report cards for the 3rd quarter.  I'm so excited!  And, I'm sorry if I seem to be bragging.  I'm just so proud!


Genna          
3rd Grade        
         
Subject   1st Q 2nd Q 3rd Q
         
Math   96 95 97
Language Arts   100 98 97
Reading   96 99 95
Handwriting   100 95 97
Spelling   105 95 99
Social Studies   100 100 100
Science   101 100 100
         
         
         
Thomas         
Kindergarten        
         
Subject   1st Q 2nd Q 3rd Q
         
Math   100 94 98
Language Arts   99 95 98
Reading   100 98 98
Handwriting   97 93 93
Social Studies   100 100 100
Science   100 100 100

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Congrats Genna!

Congratulations to our beautiful girl!  
She completed her 8th dance recital yesterday and did a fabulous job!  

Here is her tap number:


And here is her Jazz number: 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hear Thomas Reading

I did something fun and different with Thomas today.  This was in an effort to encourage more fluency in his reading while making it fun!  He loves Photobooth and it occurred to me that while I'm working with Genna on something he can record videos of himself reading and I can watch it later.  This is an AWESOME way to really know how he is doing!  Because no one is there with him to fix the errors.  I was happy to hear that most of the time he fixes them himself.  I think he is doing okay, but I can clearly see a few things we need to concentrate on.  For example...don't stop mid-sentence to go back to the other story for your silly ending!  That isn't fluent.  LOL  I told him he could be silly on the last word and he forgot.  So, he just stopped and went back.

The funny faces are also quite hysterical!

We are on lesson 126 out of 170 in our school year.  Just about three quarters of the way through.  YAY!

I was able to look at the 1st grade readers last weekend and was surprised to see that he is already capable of reading the first one!  Keeping in mind that much of each year of curriculum is based on lack of retention over the summer, I'm not completely surprised.

I've included the text below so you can read along.  :)  

video

Here are the stories:

PUFF

Jon got a big cat.
Jon will name his cat Puff.
The cat can lap its meal.
Lap, lap, lap!
Jon can pet Puff.

THE RED COAT

Mom made a red coat.
It fits the doll.
June likes the coat.
June gave Mom a kiss.
The doll got a big hug.

Monday, June 6, 2011

When I Leave My Camera at Home

When I leave my camera at home...I am not "above" looking like a major nerd while I walk around taking pictures with Thomas' Leapster Explorer!  LOL  Actually...many of these were taken by Thomas.

We had to head to New Orleans last week for a few errands.  The kids were so good while riding around for hours...not having fun.  They deserved this trip to the Aquarium of the Americas!   

This stingray was quite funny...he looked like he was "talking" to Thomas.


BIG crawfish  ;-)  


Parakeet Pointe







Seahorses...smart species...men carry the babies!  LOL


If you go the Aquarium in New Orleans you have to take a pic with the big frog!



Petting Stingrays




They are so cute!



Face to face with a gator!


Daaada...daaada...dada.dada.dada.dada


Jellyfish


Hanging with the sharks!


Swimming with them, too!  :P


OH NO!  SHARK!!

The Life and Times of this Homeschooling Mom

So, as you know, I'm not only a mom and educator...I'm also a part-time portrait photographer.  This is a work at home job.  There is only one problem...it is really difficult to find the hours in this home to sit at the computer and get into the photo editing frame of mind.  It isn't something you want to start...stop...start...stop for laundry, meals, entertaining kids, etc.  Obviously, I can't do it during schoolwork.  Trust me, I've tried!  LOL  If my attention is on editing it is similar to the teacher walking out of the room.  Editing takes concentration and focus.  I totally tune out everything going on around me when I'm in the zone.

Therefore...guess when I have time to edit photos.  At night.  When everyone in my house is sleeping!  Actually, yesterday I started mid afternoon because Kevin was home and took care of the kids and cooked our dinner.  I stayed up editing until 5am...and I wasn't even tired.  I was so happy to be accomplishing something!  This happens a lot.  It makes me a little sleepy the next day, but it is worth it!

Anyway, I woke up this morning and I was greeted with an e-mail from Brandy that included a prayer from a homeschool mom.  Seemed fitting to share it here.  It is all true and the beginning is funny!  And, without God and humor...well, I wouldn't be able to do all of the jobs I do!  :)  Admittedly...I do some better than others.  LOL


He maketh me to live on less sleep:
He leadeth me through the noise of many voices.

He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me to teach
The right lessons each day, for His name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of undone
Laundry and kitchen messes, I will fear no evil:
For thou art with me, my teacher's guides and
Answer keys, they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence
Of threatening school officials and critical family members:
Thou anointest my head with heavenly wisdom, my cup runneth over.

Surely educated and godly children shall follow after me
All the days of my life: and I will dwell again one day
In a clean house with the Lord forevermore.

Praise God, we do have a good Shepherd who leads us through every homeschooling problem and provides for our every need. Best of all, our Shepherd knows us and promises never to desert us when the wolf comes seeking to destroy (John 10:11-13). When we listen to the Shepherd's voice and follow Him, we are sure to receive a great reward as we reach the peaceful green pastures of Christ-like, educated children. "And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away" (1 Peter 5:4).

Father, how I praise You for leading my children and me in the path of homeschooling. Without You, we surely would be confused and lost. We come to You again this day and pray for Your continued blessings as we follow You. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Just thinking back...

I was reading some of my older posts and they were reminding me of some of the wonderful changes in my kids in the last 8 months.

Genna...wow...she has deprogrammed and really come into her own.  She still doesn't like to be wrong, but we rarely have tears anymore over simple and few mistakes.  In the beginning if I corrected her paper and found something wrong she pretty often would be in tears or very angry.  I'm just now realizing how that response is all but gone in the last few months.  YAY!

Thomas is still as sweet as ever, but he is a stinker and thinks he is big.  LOL  Here is a funny example...while doing his addition he'll stall (for time to think) by saying "This is soooo easy."  Cracks me up!  Also, he is reading...however...the word "but" makes him laugh every time he reads it.  He can say it 100 times and not laugh, but when he reads it he is all giggles.  He knows it is not "butt"....but he can't help himself.  He is a crazy boy.  :)

Moms and dads, do you own a digital kitchen timer?  If you don't, you should!  I started with using it to train Genna to avoid wasting time while completing assignments.  In other words, FOCUS on what you are supposed to be doing and not on everything else happening around you.  This is one of those awesome traits she inherited from her momma.  I know I struggled with this in school, and I may not be able to fix myself, but I can help my kids!  We even use it for the shower some nights.  Because, my kids have a problem understanding the words "please hurry up" or "take a quick shower/bath."  Now, on the nights when I need for them to be fast, I set the timer.  This method is working so well for us.