Monday, July 28, 2014

Art 2014-2015

Here is where I admit that art is not a subject we do each year systematically.  I have used art curriculum in the past (Artistic Pursuits), plus we have done occasional informal co-op classes with a friend who is very artistic, on top of the usual casual arts and crafts kids produce. 

As it is summer and we are actually taking off this year for the most part, I decided to focus a bit more on art before the start of the core subjects again in September.  After thinking, I didn't want to go back to Artistic Pursuits, though we did enjoy it.  I decided to try Art Through Children's Literature: Creative Art Lessons for Caldecott Books


We did the first lesson today, which used pencil, paper and a library copy of Abraham Lincoln (Bicentennial Edition) Each child then tried to replicate the lesson, which was creating a log cabin with shading to attempt to show dimensionality. It wasn't the greatest success, but they tried and had fun. :)


Zach had lots of detail but skipped the shading entirely. Oh well, he enjoyed doing it and produced something. IMG_2862

Lily's attempt was interesting in her shading attempts but she also had a good time, and they are looking forward to tomorrow's book and lesson. IMG_2863

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Planning time! Preschool version


What's new with us? Planning, planning and more planning. We are going to be teaching 4 this year, ages 12, 8, 6 and 4. Whew. That equals approximately 7th grade, 4th grade, 2nd grade and pre-K. I wasn't going to do really anything for pre-K to be perfectly honest. My tune has changed a lot since my first was 4 years old and I had energy to burn on formal schooling of that child, eager to get started. Now, it's all about the play and a few fun workboxes at that age, or so I thought. Until she grabbed pencil in a really nice grip and started producing letters and saying their sounds spontaneously. Yep, those educational videos do work. But now she wants to write and read, so that laid back pre-K year is not really going to happen. I could slow her down, but I can't bring myself to ignore that passion and enthusiasm to get started.

I did Sonlight with my two oldest, starting with my oldest before the P3/4 I think they call it was even out. By my third child, honestly that had gotten old. We still have many of the lovely books around, and still read them, but I was past the snippets of several books each day. And I couldn't face another child with their learning to read/write program.

So for the third child we went way the opposite way and did Funshine Express with her. It was pretty much all crafts all the time with some learning in there too of course. It is really set up for daycares and the like, but worked fine for us. We did even a little of the Buttercups with the younger. The price though was really outrageous for our use. Since it is set up for daycares, you get your month at a time package, and the cost really adds up fast with shipping charges by the month with no option to get the whole year at once. Really a daycare would not want that option. So, while it was well organized and fun, it wasn't going to happen again for this fourth child.

I was stumped for a while, but then I saw Moving Beyond the Page had a new age 4-5 curriculum. We have used individual literature units from MBTP but never a whole level for a child as the core. We use it as add-on to our basic classical 4-year history cycle. Looking deeper into that 4-5 age curriculum though, it seemed perfect for us. It has the strong literature focus I loved from Sonlight but with a ton more hands on that I loved with Funshine Express. It was that ideal middle of the road thing for us, and was still open and go for this mom who honestly is tired some days and not up to planning out fun and exciting preschool crafts that week. So, late last week it finally arrived in our hands, and I'm excited to teach this! We got the Materials Kit and the curriculum. Being she is a fourth child, we already own a significant portion of the literature, and what we don't have the library does. There might be a book or two I need to order from Amazon or whatever, but that is fine. It came to just under $150 for the entire year, which is quite good as that included shipping on the box that was larger than my pre-K child.

Check it out with me, materials kit first:


Oh yeah, all organized and tidy in little baggies. This is looking good, right? This is the entire year in the box. Let's look at a single item or two. Each baggie is labeled for when it is used.

Random bag of dirt/sand? Huh. At least it's provided for me! LOL

Then there are the written guides, one for the parent and one workbook for the child. The parent one is broken out by week and day, open and go format. Perfect for me. The student one is just that ... the worksheets for her. As she is a young age 4, I plan to use the page protectors over some of the letter pages so she can practice then more than once. When she is confident, she can complete the page in her book. Sometimes too, the option of dry erase just adds an extra element of fun to her work.

IMG_2856 IMG_2857 IMG_2858

So that is her main lineup. I also have some tag-along stuff she will do with her older siblings in their studies, little lapbooks she can do as they do harder lapbooks for their level. But her Moving Beyond the Page is set up to be 30 weeks of curriculum, 26 letter units and 4 holiday special weeks. That is perfect for us, and we will be getting started in September. My next posts will be about my olders and their studies, so more to come!

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Free Kindle Version: Battle with Bugs (Human Body Detectives)

There is a great freebie today, Kindle version of Battle with the Bugs of the Human Body Detectives line. These books are always a great way to liven up learning science.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Book recommendation: The Tree Lady

The Tree Lady is a brief biography of Kate Sessions, a female teacher in the 1800s who had an interest in science and nature, unusual for the time period.  This describes her education, move to San Diego and her subsequent search for trees that would grow well in this region, along with her influence of the tree planting of Balboa Park in time for the World Fair in San Diego. 

The writing is all appropriate for preschool or early elementary age students, and the illustrations are just beautiful.  This is a 5 star read for us, and especially applicable as it relates to our home city.

We used this as part of social studies as we live in San Diego.  My kids were very interested as we live near a park named for her, as well as visiting Balboa Park often and appreciating the trees there.  This was also wonderful from a science biography for younger kids as well. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Another freebie: Golden Mane

Free find for Kindle on Amazon today, with good reviews there and on Goodreads.  It is the first of a series.  Looks good for Zach and maybe Noah, but Noah is hesitant on paranormal stuff, finding it a bit scary, so I'll have  Zach read it first.  Has anyone already read this series?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Kids freebie: Puddly the Penguin

Saw this Kindle freebie this morning and picked it up for Noah.  He loves stories about animals, and this one looks good.  You can read the first few pages inside Amazon to see if you/your kids would like it, but it's hard to beat free for a price.  Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Book review: EKHO: Evil Kid Hunting Organization

My rating 3.5 stars out of 5

Elvis and his three friends, Levi, Jordy and Jackson, are 4th graders now, and have been bullied by the same bullies for several years. This year Elvis decides to do something about it, and enlists his friends to form EKHO, the Evil Kid Hunting Organization, to stop the bullies of their school. All four main boys have characteristics that make them the targets of bullies, Elvis having muscular problems, being wheelchair bound in the past, and still with a limp.

The good about this book: Strong boys who are bullied but not beaten down, good friends, who want to help all the bullied kids in school. Elvis talks about his mom and his extended family with love and pride. His mom loves him, and stands up for him. Elvis and his friends are true to themselves and proud of it. Mentioned are adaptive PE, IEPs and all kinds of other things typical public schooled kids would encounter and possibly make fun of.

The author, Marie Jones, also covers a lot of important topics as privacy when the EKHO agents start "spying" on kids. Elvis' mother points this out clearly so no reader could mistake it:

"EKHO has my blessing, but within certain boundaries. [She had described no video taping in bathrooms, teachers picking their noses, etc.] Those boundaries are breached and the only echo you'll be hearing is an empty bedroom with no computer, gaming gadgets, and the rest."

The spy gear, internet/tech stuff, gaming references, social media references, etc., etc., are all things to draw kids into the book. And those are presented in really a pretty positive way in this book. There is humor appealing to kids of the age group.

And there is a good mystery going on for the kids here ... with a bit of a cliffhanger ending to keep kids coming back for that next book.

My dislikes:

Too much of a focus on liking girls at times.  Again, these are 4th grade boys.

Lastly, too much specific name dropping - iphone, Halo, on and on. That might be specific to rope in reluctant readers, but it takes a book so fast. I doubt kids even a few years from know are going to recognize "Cake Boss," if they even do now.

Overall impression though is a good start to a series, and I might appeal to many kids. The wider the selection the better for kids ... keep them reading and enjoying. I feel the good messages in this book, explicit and implicit, far outweigh my dislikes above, but I do note those for parents and teachers. As for the mystery, I too want to know more about "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide an honest review.