Saturday, October 25, 2008

Guided or Leveled Reading

Hi Friends,
I don't know how many of you homeschoolers use ordinary books for reading rather than a basal reader...but I'm sure some of you are familiar with Reading A-Z and their leveled books.

In a public school, children are tested to find their specific reading level, so that during independent reading time, they can be directed to books that are not too hard to read alone; but also, the testing allows the teachers to teach specifically to the child's level.

Anyway...I saw someone ask once about their child's reading level, so I thought I'd share this Reading-Level Comparison Chart which shows grade levels with approximate reading levels for different leveling indicators such as Lexile, DRA and Guided Reading (Fountas & Pinnell.)

I use the Reading A-Z benchmark books to get a level for each child, then use the Reading A-Z Comparison Chart to find the correlating "professional" levels.

Then a few days ago, I found this Book Wizard at Scholastic. You can put in the title of a book or the author, and it will tell you the different levels of the book. Then you can search for more in that level or above or below that level. I've been busy leveling the books from my bookshelves so that the kiddos will know at a glance the books that will be "just right" for them. I send my dgd home with a bag of books to read with her mom and dad every few days, so this wizard has been a huge help in sending the right books home! No more guessing and hoping the books won't be too hard or too I can just pull level "H" books off the shelf and into the bag they go! So easy.

I thought even though you may not have a grandchild or extra child that leaves your homeschool each day...this may still help you pull the right books out for taking in the car, or for making a list of books to get from the library, or maybe just for quiet time reading... so hopefully I am helping someone out with this post.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Got Yarn?

I knit...not alot, but this time of year more so. Last year I made the kids hats, I'd like to do it again. Last year I made my dgd a Fisherman Knit cardigan...I've always wanted to make was SO unbelievably easy! I finished it in less than 3 weeks - and I made an extra sleeve...well, I didn't make it extra on purpose...I made it and decided it would be too small, and I would need to make the next size I have an extra sleeve...NO WAY was I ripping out all that hard work. LOL So this year, I decided to make the rest of the sweater to go with that sleeve. I'm nearly done...doing the last front piece, and then I'll have to assemble it and be done. It's for dd5, she knows it, she's very'll probably be a birthday present since that is before Christmas.
This is dgd with the sweater at Christmas:

Well, today as I sat down to work a little on the latest sweater, dgd asked if I would teach her to "sew." I explained it is called knitting, and found some short wooden needles for her...and dd as I knew once dgd was knitting, dd would have to do so as well! lol I was right, I had just enough time to get dgd knitting away when dd noticed and wanted to do the same.
I wasn't able to get alot of knitting done myself, and I only managed to get photos after dgd had gone I don't have photos of her yet, but she did very well learning the rhyme. If you haven't figured out my A type personality yet - well, dd is the same way! She sat an knit away, right up to dinner and afterward, too! Dear hubby was able to get a couple photos and even a video of her. She is very competitive, and wanted to make sure she had "passed" dgd in knitting length of the "scarf."
Rather than post a bunch of pictures, I decided to make a smilebox for, without further ado...

Click to play Knittin' with Momma


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My "Schoolroom"

Hello Friends,
Someone in a yahoo group I belong to was asking for photos of our homeschool setup for a website she was making to help other homeschoolers. Of course now I can't find her post, so I thought I'd just put my pics here...maybe she'll find me, maybe not...but maybe someone truly is interested in my setup...then again maybe not.
But I'll post anyway. *Ü*

We are set up in my formal dining room...which we don't ever use as a dining room.
The pellet stove is in this room, so it's nice and warm.
This is a picture of the full "calendar wall". The next pictures are close ups of the different components:

You can see there are some "song sheets" and a white board which has days of the week, a clock, piggy bank and tally spot. Below that is a rolled up pocket chart, another white board (which is gray) used for morning messages, and a "weather station". To the left of the "weather station" is our calendar and thermometer.

The above close up shows the days of the week. We turn one card over each day, and will eventually use this to spring board into math computations...7-4=3, 7-3=4, 4+3=7, 3+4=7 etc. On the blue square we write the date in numerals. We do the "time" each day...right now we are doing strictly by the hour and so far have used word problems for this..."if it is 10 o'clock now, what time was in one hour ago" to get a time for the new day. We also tally the days of school each month and record that as well as count the days we've been in school (not for the month, but total) and then count that in coins.

The next photo is of our "white" board, that is actually gray...we use it for a morning message. Right now we are concentrating on punctuation, capitalization and spelling of sight words. The weather graph is done daily by ds4, the girls do it in their calendar notebook...well, most of these components are also done in their notebooks. Under that is our new Yesterday-Today-Tomorrow chart. Our old one just had the days of the week...I made this one yesterday to include days as well as numbers. I'll manipulate it for a couple weeks, then let the kids do it. Underneath, you can't see the clocks we use during the "time" part of calendar. Every child has his/her own clock. You can see them in the first picture I posted.

This next picture shows the coin songs we use, the Book-It chart and the pledge. Below that is a strip of seasons, the orange arrow points to our current season.

Last's our calendar, place value/school day counter pockets (we use popsicle sticks instead of straws for this), our thermometer {we practice counting by 5s daily, and this is graphed in our calendar notebook daily, and a hundreds board (we add then new number daily, we're counting our days of 100, then we'll have a party!) Every day of school that ends in a zero (10th, 20th, 30th, etc.) we have a special celebration with "Zero the Hero" and do an art activity and a graphing activity.}

Well, that's not the entire room...I didn't post a picture of our table, so I'll have to do that on another post...but that is our calendar wall, and it takes about a half hour to do all of that. It sets a nice routine to our day.

The kids know we do calendar, spelling, Explode the Code or handwriting and math...then we have snack. Then we finish our school day with History and Science. Break for lunch and recess, then storytime and naps for the little ones. Lastly we have reading for the girls and some independent activities to reinforce math and language arts skills.

I've gotta run and make tummy is growling!

Bye for now!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Lapbooking and Zero the Hero

Well, after helping someone on come up with some ideas for a bear lapbook, I decided to go ahead and do one lapbook on each animal in the Thornton Burgess stories...(rather than one mini book and culminating in one lapbook at the end of the year.) God gave me some inspirational ideas in the middle of the night, I should have gotten up and jotted them down! I did remember a few however and so will incorporate those into our lapbook.
The first book was called The Adventures of Reddy Fox. So we did a library pocket with some tangrams and a picture of a tangram fox - I really like making my lapbooks interactive and able to be used again and again. We also put some folds along one small side, and used those to write some words that end in sh/ch/tch or x to add -es to to make plural (such as foxes - I tried to find words somehow related to the fox world...but we did stretch a few! lol)
We also did a little flip book with vocabulary words such as nocturnal and omnivorous and an accordian fold which tells the size of each type of 3 foxes, and compares to find the largest and smallest.
I think in the big center space we'll add a peek-a-boo lift-the-flap of four different types of foxes, and on a fold-out we'll put in a wheel that does something similar, and finally we'll have some lift-the-flap greeting card type folds for where each fox lives in the world.
We found a lovely Jan Brett illustration for our cover, and I will certainly share our creations when we are done.
I'm just glad to have finally made the decision and be moving forward!

On another topic, today was our 30th day of school - I can't believe it! I don't know if any of you have ever heard of Zero the Hero? Well, we have a "visit" from him every tenth day...days of school that end in a zero. Today he brought Reese's Pieces for us (notice the zero shape) 30 for each child, and we sorted and graphed them. I had hoped to have one graphing activity each month besides our weather graphing...but this is our first. The kids loved it - we did a few last year so they are old pros now. Another zero day activity I'm planning is some sort of art project that will end in a ten page book which counts by 10s to 100. On day 10 we did 10 red apples in a tree, day 20 was 20 fall leaves and today was 30 pumpkin seeds...of course I made a mad dash to Wally-World last night in hopes that they would still have seed packages - nope - I was dreading having to cut open a pumpkin and dry the seeds overnight when it dawned on me that we could paint the we did. We cut orange construction paper ovals, and then smaller, lighter ones and layered them to look like we were looking at the inside of a pumpkin...then using our finger we made the seeds! They look so cute!

Just in case anyone is interested...these were the apple trees:

and these were the fall leaves:

I'm excited about the final book. My plans are for 40 - candy, 50 stars (it's on or near Veteran's Day, so we'll do a flag) 60 turkey feathers, 70 Christmas tree ornaments, 80 snowflakes, 90 - not sure yet and 100 hearts (very near Valentine's Day.) If you have any ideas/suggestions for this, help me out! I appreciate all the help I can get!

Watch for our Fox lapbooks coming soon!


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Heart of Dakota's Little Hearts for His Glory - Week 6

Last week I attended our local homeschool group's monthly meeting. One lady lead us all in song, and afterwards said that is how she and her children begin each homeschool day...with a worship song. I thought, oh how nice...I should do that, too! The next morning, we did. We sang two songs, our day went wonderfully. That was Friday.
My dgd made a wonderful drawing of Moses coming down the mountain to find the Israelites worshiping the golden calf...

(I think I wrote previously of the edible playdoh adventure we had!)

Well, on Monday of this week, we started the same was awful! No one wanted to sing or be quiet and enjoy the was dreadful. We tried again on wasn't much better! We tried again today (Wednesday) and it was much better...the sense of peace and calm was back. School was very smooth, attitudes were mostly cooperative, and we finished school in record time!
This week we've been reading about Moses and the promised land. Moses has died. Joshua is to lead the people into Jericho. Today we read about Rahab and the spies she protected. The Little Hearts program suggested a very creative art the walls with construction paper and hand drawn stones and have the children fill in the "mortar" (ie. shaving cream) by squeezing it from a baggie onto the paper - sort of like frosting a cake! It was so much fun. Then we added a red "rope" that was the rope the spies escaped Jericho on. Here are some pictures:

You can see they all enjoyed this...and you can see dgd6 is quite proficient with a bag of "frosting" I may have to do some cakes with her!
Here they are with their finished products:

Rather than just throw away the extra shaving cream, I let the kids have fun with it in the tub! They thought that was just a grand adventure...

dgd made a face with it.

ds was just a giggly little guy!

and dd got it on herself...oops!

Well, this was a really long post...and I haven't blogged at all about our horse riding adventures! I'll save that for another blog.

Friday, October 3, 2008

LH4HG Week 5

Hello Friends!

Week five of homeschooling has drawn to a close. I cannot believe how fast the weeks are going by! How is your homeschool journey going?

We've finished "unit" 5. The kids had a hard time learning the Bible verse, but we've sung it everyday and then some...I think it is just too long. We learned about Moses and the Israelites. We concluded today's history lesson with some "art". Edible art. Little Hearts for His Glory had us make homemade playdoh...well, we ran out of peanut butter, so instead we used a jell-o playdoh recipe (I'll share it later.) The dough was easy to make, and didn't take long to cool. We read the Bible story of how Moses comes down from the mountain and sees the people worshiping the golden calf. Did you know that to teach the Israelites a lesson, he melted the gold and made them DRINK it?! I had never read that tidbit before! So our "art" lesson was to make a "golden calf" from our edible playdoh and then eat it.

I have to say here...our playdoh was pink because we happened to have strawberry jell-o on hand. We also had orange, and in hindsight I realize now orange would have been a better choice...more "golden"...but I didn't think of that when I was looking at ingredients, I just thought "oh, strawberry will taste better than orange" duh - oh, well. The kids loved the softness of the playdoh, and making any animal is I helped a little. Here is dgd6's response to "drinking the golden calf":

She thought it was gross! Well, it is very salty.
Here's the recipe I used:
1c flour
1/2c salt
1c water
1T oil
2t cream of tartar
1 pkg jell-o

Mix together (I wisked the flour and water together first - like gravy - to make it "lumpless") cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until it becomes mashed potatoe consistancy. Let cool. Knead with floured hands on floured surface until dry. Cool completely before storing in airtight container.

We had a grand time. We truly have been enjoying our LH4HG experience.

Last week we introduced spelling, and went through the process of dictating a sentence, and having a "spelling test" and all that. It went well, so this week we did it for real. I have an Evan-Moor Grade 1 Spelling book that we are using. We actually began half way through...the first 13 units were all 3 letter short vowel words. So we had our real spelling test today, and the girls both got all the words correct. They were allowed to choose a sticker to put on their paper as a reward. (Oh the joys of homeschooling little ones! lol)

New this week also, ds4 wanted a calendar notebook like the girls. So mommy made him one...he has carried it around much of the day! He is very proud to have one. Of course I didn't include all that I do with the girls, but just encourage him by telling him that next year he will have all of that too...he doesn't write much yet, so instead of writing a number in the calendar boxes, he just colors our pattern...this month is an AAB pattern, so he is coloring the boxes red, red, orange. It is so cute to see him so excited.

We also did our first CalcuLadder drill. Well, just the girls. They did level 2 which is simply adding 1 to a number. We did a trial run to show them how it is done, then did an actual drill. They completed the page and still have 15 or 20 seconds to spare! Wow! Was I impressed. They got a little reward certificate for their efforts.

My sweet brother bought for his daughter 6 or so years ago, the Phonics Game. We brought that out to play with during quiet time this week. The games are all played the same it seems...but that's okay, the kiddos have fun playing and learning anyhow.

Oh! I almost forgot! We also instituted a new "responsibility chart" into our home. I was blessed to get it at nearly half price used from another homeschooling family that had outgrown it. We are loving it. The two little ones get up each morning and follow the cards on the chart and earn a "ticket". They go about the homeschooling part of our day, and follow the cards as needed to earn another ticket in the afternoon. Then at bedtime they follow a few more routine cards and earn a final ticket. If they earn 3 in a day, they earn a sticker towards a long-term reward - a special date with mom or dad. The program is SO AWESOME! It's called Accountable Kids and I have to say things are so much smoother at my house! If I have a child who just isn't being obedient, I can warn them that they will lose a ticket; if the behavior continues, I ask them to bring me a ticket...they hate that! They use their tickets to "buy" special privileges that they have had all along - riding bikes, watching tv or videos...but I also added playing a game from our game closet and playdoh...things I don't usually let them do unsupervised. They can also earn a special "Privilege Pass" for a targeted behavior that they can use to buy computer time. This has been an amazing incentive for my ds4 who was still messing in his pants. This is week 2 of doing the program and the messing happened only once since we began! I am totally amazed...I had offered the incentive of computer time...but for some reason the idea that he can earn the card that he can use to buy computer time just worked better...I don't get it! But, I am not going to question a program that works!