Monday, November 14, 2011

Momma Mindy's Do It Yerself Spellen Krickulum.

I've had a  hard finding a Spelling curriculum
that's easy to use and will actually teach spelling.

The rote curriculums with lists,
 a week of activities and the quiz on Friday
are traditional, OK, but kinda' boring.

For kids that are good spellers, they get A's,
but never really advance their skills.

For kids that aren't good spellers,
it doesn't seem to help, just adds frustration.

The super-duper "only spelling curriculum you'll ever need"
 books have broken my heart more  than once with their false promises.

While Beka was making me lunch the other day,
I had a light bulb moment.

Are you also saying
"light bulb" with a German accent?
Then you haven't seen Descipable Me.

Anyhoo.... back to spelling and my light bulb moment.

The day my daughter volunteered to make lunch,
 and then I had to pay for it,
she spelled words wrong on her menu,

and on her bill.

It made sense to use these words for
that week's spelling list.
After all, these are words she uses and misspells.

The day's English worksheet added more spelling words.
I orally tested her on the months and dotted the ones
she spelled incorrectly.

I made a quick worksheet using Microsoft Word.
Quick.  No clip art, no borders, no nothing.
Got 'er dun.

She filled in the words in the blanks.

Using, she typed in the words
the way she originally spelled them.
When misspelled, it says "no dictionary results"
and will add
"did you mean _____________?"

She loved using the computer to find the correct spelling.
Along with the traditional entries, 
there's an option to hear the computer pronounce the word.

Scrabble board and tiles were used to spell the words
for the next day's spelling activity.

My son Jon grabbed my camera at this point and said,
"Hey Mom, we never get pics of you.  You're always taking the pictures.
Since you're dressed and lookin' good,
not that you don't look good every day...
(hmmmm learning to back peddle already, this is good)
lemme' take your pic."

Aw, I love that kid.
I also decided this is a very good view for a woman
who is conscience about her humongous scar on her neck
and her growing double chin.

Not to mention the hair growing on my chin,
but they usually don't show up in pictures.

The traditional Friday spelling quiz.
How do you spell success?

Momma Mindy's Do It Yerself Spellen Krickulum.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Big Ol' Leaves

While living in Kansas for seven years,
we picked up a few habits.

A love for basketball, for one.
My husband became a Duke University fan,
mostly in opposition to his students
who were ardent Kansas University Jayhawk fans.

We also picked up drinking iced tea, not sweet though.
Although we left in 1994, occasionally a y'all will slip out now and then.

I also picked up this strange affinity for hedge apples,
although the first time I saw I thought it looked like a tennis ball.
Once I kicked it and nearly broke several toes, I realized
it's NOT as light as a tennis ball.

But, the all time, most favoritest thing we brought back from KS-
saying big ol'!
You don't catch a fish, you catch a big ol' fish.
Nobody has a large dog, they have a big ol' dawg.

Imagine my surprise in moving to the Pacific Northwest
and seeing my first  Big Leaf Maple.
When the leaves began to fall, I felt like I had to duck.
There's no better way to describe these puppies than by calling them
 big ol' leaves.
Some are bigger than a dinner plate.

This year, we had to get some
big ol' Maple leaves to decorate.

We had to go for a walk.
one sunny fall day in the beautiful PNW.
(I love Science class!)

Beka always has to walk with a wicker basket
hanging gracefully over her arm when we go on nature walks.
I think she's seen too many Jane Austen movies
to ever live a normal life again.

When we came home, we tucked our finds into our flower press.
My oldest daughter, Jana, made this at Bible camp years ago.
It's been well loved.

A few days later, they were dry.
Because my laminating sheets are 81/2 X 11,
I had to choose smaller BLM leaves to fit in the laminating pouches.

Hot off the press!

Once I trimmed around the edges,
they were ready to add some color to my
big ol' Fall mantle.

 Some of the leaves I let dry crinkly
to add some texture and interest to the display.

 Remember, these aren't the
biggestbig ol' Big Leaf Maple leaves,
these are just the punks that could fit in my laminator.
Still dreaming about how to
flatten and laminate the
biggest big ol' BLM leaves!

I'm thinking this week I'll pick some more
big ol' Big Leaf Maple leaves.
I think my big ol' sister, Laurie, ya'll know,
the ones that lives down in Kansas,
would like to decorate this fall with some
big ol' laminated leaves.

Maybe, she'll be so happy with her
big ol' older sister,
she'll send me a box of hedge apples.
Of course, I'll use them for display,
not soccer practice.

If you don't have access to laminating,
my sister in law dried her leaves,
dipped them in melted paraffin,
then let them air dry.

For generations, people ironed leaves between
waxed paper.

Dried leaves can be modge-podged onto
paper mache pumpins, glass jars,
and anything else your heart desires.

The best part about decorating with leaves?
They're free!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Got Hunger?

Health is a required subject,
but it's too easy to view it merely as a text book
and not a way of life.

How the kids implement what they've read
about nutrition, exercise and personal care
is more important than how they answer the questions
at the end of each section.

After reading about the food groups and choosing a healthy snack,
Beka was determined to put it into practice.

Think she made a good decision for snack time?

Sometimes when learning isn't going well,
it's important to re-evaluate basic needs of students
and the teacher.

A few times, I thought the kids were being lazy
or disobedient in their school work,
but the truth was,
they were just hungry.

I didn't used to serve snacks
because I really wanted the kids to eat their meals.
However, if I hadn't served a filling, nutritional meal,
it didn't last.

Breakfast, especially, should be healthy,
including a protein which stays with them longer.
To ensure the daily requirement of fruits and veggies are eaten,
they need to be served with every meal.

Hunger can cause dizziness or lightheadedness,
irratibility, agitation and a lack of concentration.
Sound like your kids?
Or you?

If your kids are hungry, unless your breath smells like French fries,
they aren't going to be able to concentrate.

I always wanted to push on and just finish up what we were working on
and then eat lunch, but too late I realized that they could do the work
more quickly if they weren't hungry.

It's hard to be the mommy, the teacher and the chef,
but to make your homeschooling adventure more successful,
you have to keep all three plates full at the same time.


Speaking of plates, the United States Department of Agriculture
has changed their food pyramid

  to a plate.

They haven't updated all their kid and teacher resources,
but their site still contains a lot of helpful information
for your classroom/kitchen.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Flower Power Patterns

The second day we were using 
to conquer
Multiplication Facts,
we discovered another benefit.

Notice the amazing patterning of numbers!

While counting by 4's, the ones digits will follow this pattern.


By understanding patterns of numbers,
you also can recognize if your answer is correct.

The flower s were fun to make,
'cuz you know I love me some cut and paste,
but I knew they were successful when Beka asked today,
"Mom, can I work on my 4's multiplication?"

Yea, sweet.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Flower Power

When you look back to your childhood memories,
is learning your
multiplication facts
one of your favorite memories?

Yea, me neither.

When Rebekah had to start learning the facts
in second grade,
I fussed a little.

"It's too early!
I didn't learn them until the end of third grade!"

At the beginning of third grade, Beka and I were back to the
multiplication tables.

I used flashcards.
I used speed drills.
I used the chalk board.
I used the marker board.

It still wasn't working.

I had to pull out all the stops.

I didn't major in Cut and Paste for no reason,
I love me some cutting and pasting.

While Rebekah was working on the math worksheet,
I began crafting.

Thirteen little claypots were fitted with a green flower  foam.
Since I found a shoebox full of these beauties for $2
at a thrift store, it made the idea affordable.
 I love a good deal!

The flowers could also be tucked into wooden spools,
paper flower pots glued into a file folder
or just lined up on the floor.

Do what's easiest, fastest and/or cheapest for you.
If you're starting out homeschooling,
you might want to make them super fancy.

If you're on your last child, like I am,
you might want to tone the project down.

These bags of flowers and circles were in my scrap drawer.

Recognize them?
I used them to decorate for Grace's graduation last May.
First I cut them,
then I glued them on little Chinese take-out boxes.

Because I waste not, want not,
I had extra flowers I didn't waste, and I wanted,
so I was able to make a quick craft out of them.

 These flat wooden picks were bought two years ago,
when I first birthed the idea of flower manipulatives.

I just never got around to doing anything with them.

Better late than never.

A commercial break to show you my dirty dining room floor.
That stuff will most likely be there tomorrow.

Except for the M&M.
I heard someone cry out in delight with the find
and they promptly ate it.
The guilty shall remain nameless because I know you're totally grossed out.

Your family might have the 5 second rule,
we have about a 5 hour rule.
OK, I'll be honest, it's a 5 day rule.
Yea, yer' right, it's really like 5 months.

Hey, candy is candy!

The first set of flowers are for counting by 4's.

Remember how Skipper helped us skip count?
This is a skill crucial to learning multiplication facts.

Another set of flowers became the math facts.
I didn't use a particular color pattern,
kids can pick up on stuff like that and match answers
according to patterns, not the answers.

If you're an OCD Type A person,
it might drive you crazy to not have the pattern
yellow, purple, red, yellow, purple, red.

C'mon, loosen your rubber bands, girlfriend!
It's about learning.

Calligraphy pens work great when I really don't have time
to fuss with fancy lettering,
or the money to buy many packages of number stickers.

As soon as I had them glued together,
Rebekah started matching flowers in the little flower pots.

Lined up along the buffet in the dining room,
they made a bright spot in math class.


There are a lot of improvements that could be done:

-bright trim along the top edge of the flower pot
-spanish moss to cover up the foam
-paint the wooden stems green
-add leaves to the stalks

Flowers can be made for each number family.

Flowers can be made to show all the math facts with the same product.


Number flowers could be used to separate
even from odd

I have a feeling this project could impact our math class.

just maybe,
she'll learn her
multiplication facts
by heart.

And maybe,
just maybe,
someday learning her
multiplication facts
will be one of her fondest memories.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Continuing the Science Shelf Tradition

Last year I started the tradition of a

Go ahead, click on the link, I know you wanna'.

Well, that shelf got hijacked for a Christmas project.
I've been buying little plastic vintage things for a few years,
and I finally had enough to fill the spaces.

The stuff is down on my craft counter,
waiting for the magical slot of time to appear
so I can complete the project.

Any hoo -

This Science project was started partly because through the years
I've developed a personal aversion
to reading a few pages and answering a few questions.
If the teacher is bored, the kids are bored.

The Abeka Science book is good,
but I needed to
and  taste,

But it really started when I was diagnosed with cancer
 and Rebekahn was barely two years old.
For physical and mental health issues,
we began taking walks around the neighborhood,
watching ants,
smelling flowers,
picking up pine cones,
enjoying the wonderful world the Lord created,
and bringing home treasures.

I finally figured out an attractive way to display our precious finds.

(click on pic to enlarge, if you wanna')

This year I found a new shelf at a garage sale.

The bottle on the left filled with green is a simple experiment,
the oil and water one, with a few random cute things floating
in the water for good measure.

Didja' know self proclaimed Science Geeks,
like to do Science projects during a play date?


I got ambitious and spray painted the Scrabble tile holders black.
Yea, I'm matchy-matchy like that.
The dishes may be piled high, your feet may stick to my floor,
but I'm doing something irrelevant because I want it to match.

The cool wood chips are from a beaver.
During a nature walk on a trail along the river,
we found a tree a beaver was in the process of chopping down.
We brought home a few chewed slivers for a souvenir.

 See this beauty?
Some snake left its outer layer on a rock  in Montana
and I had to bring them both home.
Rebekah wasn't too happy about being "this" Science geeky,
she told me politely she prefers plant science.

But, the shelf awaits our adventure.

When the PNW brings us a sunbreak,
we'll grab a wicker basket,
maybe load up our monkies in the stroller,
and take off to
explore and experience

The shelf will temporarily display our treasures,
our minds will contain the knowledge,
but our hearts will always cherish the memories.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Don't Skip Skip Counting, Let Skipper Skip

Skip Counting
 is a long, lost skill.

When modern educators thought rote drills were too monotonous, 
boring and unproductive,
they stopped having the kids chant in class,

The multiplication tables weren't chanted, either.

They even came up for a name for it...
"Drill and Kill."
You can research all the arguments. 
They use a lotta' big words and catch phrases I didn't understand,
but I know this,
some things have to be repeated over and over to be learned.

How many times have you told your kids to flush the toilet?
How many times do you go in a find a toilet full of... you find the toilet is unflushed?
My point exactly.
Repetition is good.

Anything valuable has to  repeated over and over  to get through their
knuckleheads, peabrains, noggins,
their precious little minds.

Skip counting is valuable in addition and multiplication.

Jolanthe from Homeschool Creations
is an amazing teaching mommy.

Generous, too.
She offers many, many free printables and ideas to make your
teaching rock.
She inspires me so much I think I wanna' be her when I grow up.

Start by printing out her
If you do this, drop a comment and thank her.
Did I tell you how amazing she is?
2,700 followers think so.

I put mine in clear page protectors in a binder,
but they could also be laminated.
Thanks to Jolanthe blogging about a great deal on a laminator,
I got one for Christmas.

Back to Skip Counting.

Here's where my little touch comes in.
Remember how I love toys?

I really, really, really love toys.
Just like a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down,
toys make any lesson better.

I thought we needed Skipper to help us Skip Count.

Since we're trying to learn the 3's in multiplication,
we hopped through the list a few times,
counting out loud.

Then, we began working on the facts,  beginning with Skipper on zero.

If I said,
2 x 3
Skipper hopped twice up to the six.

I made Rebekah repeat the problem and the product,
yea, that would be the answer in multiplication.

Skipper landed on 27. 
what math fact did I call out?
Yea, yer' so smart, 3 x 9.

3 x 4 = 12
Yea!  Got another one right.

Then you introduce the commutative property.
If 3x4 = 12
It's a two 'fer one kinda' deal.
You memorize a lot less facts when you understand this concept.

Then, just when I was really patting myself on the back about
our amazing math lesson I had presented and the blog I was gunna' write
Skip Counting With Skipper
Rebekah said,
"But, Mom, this doll's name is Stacie."

Monday, September 26, 2011

Rhyme Time is a Fine Time

Sometimes, the reasons I love to homeschool are simple.

It's not  great philosophical or academic reasons
I could spew off a soap box.

I love being with my kids.
 I also love being there for those amazing moments
of growth and enthusiasm when they conquer a new skill.

Imagine if I never saw the worksheet below,
and never had that
moment because this worksheet was completed then shoved
to the bottom of a desk or lost on the bus.

Click to enlarge.
I know ya' really want to read this.

Yes, my daughter discovered the word
rhymes with the word

It's truly moments like these make me
my decision to homeschool.

Teaching is my delight.
I teach with all my might.
My children are outta' sight,
Even when they bite.
I really like to write
But my poetry is  a fright.

Speaking of rhyming,
Write Express offers a free online rhyming dictionary.

There's another one from Ken Nesbitt's
If you're one of those cool, younger moms who
use their thumbs to rule the world,
there's even a free app to download.

Kids love rhyming when it's fun,
and shoving a worksheet in front of them first,
isn't fun.

I like to entice them with a reading from
Jack Prelutsky first.
I blogged that I like to turn their
knee-jerk negative reaction into a knee-slap.
When they learn that poetry and rhyming
can be ridiculously fun,
then you bring on those boring worksheets.

Oh, did I call them boring?

Imagine my excitement when a local writer,
Marty Nystrom, wrote two poetry books,
one for the Old Testament and one for the New Testament.

A versatile writer, you know him best as author of
"As the Deer" and many other contemporary worship songs.

Once while reading this aloud to Rebekah,
she giggled and said, "Mom, he has boys, right?"
Yea, he writes as a Christian, a poet, and a Dad.

Reading silly poetry
and giggling with my little girl,
is just one more reason why
I love homeschooling.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

On Your Mark....

...Get Set....

Kids love to line up elbow to elbow,
their rubber-soled shoes pointing to an inevitable victory,
and dash forward with the final command~

Young kids think they're going to win every race they enter.

They challenge their older sibling,
and think they're going to win.

They challenge their dad,
and think they're going to win.
They aren't mature enough to  understand when they do win,
it's because Daddy lets them win.

As they age,
they understand the competition,
they understand their limitations,
and they realistically know they might not win every race.

But, the diligent racers still put their foot forward,
crouch down,
and listen for that command

When I first lined up for the race of homeschooling,
I was confident I was going to win.
My enthusiasm and my excitement knew no boundaries.
Who doesn't love school supplies?

I was thrilled to be doing
what I loved
whom I loved.

When I first heard the starting gun,
I took off sprinting.
The supplies and books had already been purchased,
special snacks and meals prepared,
everything was waiting for that exiting occasion~
the first day of school.

I was surprised to discover what I thought was going to be a sprint,
turned out to be the hurdles.

Through the years, my race has been interrupted by
books on backorder,
power outages,
and my personal battle with cancer.

When I first put my foot on that starting line,
I had no idea how hard it sometimes would be 
to see the finish line ahead of me.

But, I always kept my rubber-soled shoes pointing forward.

It wasn't always pretty, but I always finished,
and I've learned to count

This year, I don't think I was even at the starting line when the gun went off.

Like my kids, I just didn't want summer to end.

But, like most veterans,
I now understand the competition and
I now understand my limitations.

I've learned what has to be done ahead of time,
and what can be done as you go.
I've learned that anxiety and frustration breed faster in a home
than all the dust bunnies in my corners.
I've learned that the most important thing about this race,
is to be thrilled to be doing

what I love
whom I love.

Ya' know what? 

Once the race started again this year,
I was a little kid all over again.

My rubber-soled shoes are pointing to an inevitable victory,

I'm convinced I'm gunna' win.