Monday, November 28, 2011

Switch Gears or Stay the Course?

What do I know about choosing curriculum for my kids?  Apparently, not much!  As we are approaching Christmas, I have been evaluating what is working, what isn’t, what the kids like, and what they don’t.

One thing is unanimous, they love Apologia science, right now we’re using the Astronomy book with Junior notebooking journals.  I can’t say enough good things about it. Love it! Fun!

So far, mixed reviews on Learning Language Arts Through Literature.  I like the concept of this set.  I like that it’s all in one big book, but in reality, it’s not working that well for us.  The big book is hard to work in, directions are sometimes unclear.  There isn’t the right continuity for us.  Spelling words are given at the beginning of the week, and not reviewed.  Then, they suddenly pop up a week later, as in “ which of last week’s vocabulary words fill in this blank?”.  It’s frustratingly slow for Colleena’s age level, and I find myself skipping most of the activities. We already bumped her from the kindergarten set to the grade one set based on her ability. Yes, that is the beauty of home schooling, but if I am skipping all of it, what is the point?  I find myself admitting that I won’t use that level again unless I happened to have a child who was still really struggling with what sounds the letters make by grade one.  Time required is very inconsistent.  Some days they need an hour, some days 10 minutes! 

And, mixed reviews on the ABeka math.  Baden finds it distracting that the pages are colourful.  They tend to put questions where they can fit them on a page, and it’s not always linear or consistent. Baden keeps missing questions because he just didn’t see where they were.  He doesn’t feel there is enough teaching sections.  Colleena loves her math book and is flying through it, but doesn’t seem to retain enough of it.  She is able to kind of float along and answer the questions without really understanding enough of the concepts. That could just be her fear of being "put on the spot" though.  She tends to freeze when she is afraid you're testing her and she might be wring.  I  add extra activities to make sure she really is getting the concepts.

They love the Bible course from Alpha Omega, but I am frustrated at the use of the King James Version.  It’s just not functional for us, so we have to reference a more familiar version.  Not a huge problem, and they are really learning some neat stuff that they retain well.

So, I am now asking myself… switch gears or stay the course with what I’ve got?   Baden has requested a plain math text with more questions and less pictures. Seriously buddy?  So, he looked at Saxon Math and loved the samples.  I tested him with their placement test, and he flew through grade 3 and into grade 4.  Do I make him finish the grade 2 that we have now?  I also looked into “Christian Light” math.  It appeals to me, especially with the smaller books, but it may be distracting to him still.

I also like the look of the Bible, Reading and Language Arts programs from “Christian Light”.  I am torn about just what my kids should study for “English”.  Do they need grammar rules already?  Spelling lists and practice?  Comprehension activities?  Read alouds?  All of the above? 

French is still the most difficult issue.  The Easy French Junior level is good for Colleena, but far too easy for Baden who does already speak French well.  I did find today the set the school uses to teach in Kindergarten and grade one at the Carrefour Fransaskois and I am able to borrow it for the year.  I think I'll begin using that on top of what we have.  They also had awesome games, books and cd's to borrow.  love the local French library.  I also want to find some activities and work sheets that would be the equivalent of Language Arts in French.  Still looking into a few recommendations I got.  It's hard to know what should be taught in which order.  Anyone know what they should be learning in grade 2 for French?  Is it still just vocabulary building?

I know this is my first year, and I knew that I would have a lot to learn as we went this year, but I really thought I knew my kids and their learning styles better!  Have any of you had to switch gears mid year?  Was it a positive change, or did you regret it?  Have you used Saxon or Christian Light programs?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Let It Begin, Let It Begin!!

You know that little hamster from “Bolt”, anxious to begin the adventure?  Well that is how I have been feeling about our kitchen reno.  Now that I have accepted the fact that I will be living, cooking, and schooling amidst drywall dust and paint samples, I want to just get started already!!!  It’s killing me that my much loved new lino is still sitting in a roll in my garage.  We have a few things that have to get done before it can go in, but every time I wash this ( much despised) white floor, I get irked!

So, this week as I sat staring at hideous green wallpaper, I thought “ This is it, I have had ENOUGH! I am tearing that down TODAY!”.  But then it occurred to me that Shawn might resent that.  He might feel as if I was forcing him to move the kitchen things up in priority on the to-do list.  We’ve been feeling so overwhelmed, over scheduled and over committed lately.  So I emailed him at work, wanting to gage his reaction before doing anything.

“Hypothetically speaking… If you came home and I had ripped the “chair rail” off the wall, your reaction would be: A) HAZAAA!!  An item crossed off my to-do list  OR  B) What the happening?!?”" ( Which by the way is Lily’s way of exclaiming and it makes us all laugh).

Ahh, but my hubby knows me well, so he replied: “ Based on the fact that you are asking me, I am assuming you’ve already done it, soooo… A”

After swearing to him that I had not yet started anything and thatDSC_0216 I genuinely wanted his permission, he assured me he would still choose “HAZAA!!”.

I wasted no time, boy!  I hate this ugly faux chair rail that was really just baseboards haphazardly nailed half way up the wall and the green wallpaper.  The kids thought this was the funniest job on earth! “ You mean we can rip it all off?”  DSC_0217They gleefully helped pull off all the paper.  Then Baden manned the steamer and we got the glue and backing off without much effort at all.  It was awesome to see it come down!!

Then, we painted a couple of color samples and are test driving them for a few days before I commit to painting my whole wall a very dark rust.DSC_0219

Also coming together are the plans for the built in bench!!


And, I did remember to take some “before” pictures a couple weeks ago.  This is as clean as it ever gets around here, I was going to REALLY clean it, but then I figured that most of you have seen my house in it’s real state  (much much worse than this!) anyway… Haha!  Plus, I figured, why lie?  This is what it looked like!


Nifty Thrifty Gifty: UV Sensitive Beads

I first heard about these beads in our Apologia Astronomy book that we are using for science this year.  They were recommended as a neat extra project to learn about the sun’s rays and how UV light exists even when we think it’s cloudy or not overly sunny out.  I found them in lots of places throughout the states, but it took a bit more looking to find them in Canada.  Once I ordered them, I got to thinking : Not only is this a fun science project, it would be a great gift idea!
This is the item that helped me to stubble on, the neat site I mentioned in my earlier post.  The owner is great, they have awesome customer service and I would recommend checking out their site for all kinds of interesting science related gizmos!

The beads are white when they are in no UV light.  This package of about 100 beads is enough to make a few bracelets, or a couple necklaces alone, more if you mix them with regular pony beads.  DSC_0230

Once exposed to UV, they start to turn color.  These are the beads after sitting in the sun for a few minutes on my kitchen table.  It’s winter light here, so not bright, and it was through the window, so it’s amazing that there is still enough UV to change them!  Still, you can see how the colors start to appear.

My kids have t-shirts that work the same way, and they have always loved them.  They are looking forward to making bracelets and “testing” to see how much UV light there is in different situations.  Homeschool-wise, there I think there are several interesting projects I’d like to try with them.  You could smear your sunscreen on them, and see how much UV is really blocked by your favourite brands, or put some behind your sunglasses and compare them to a set right out in the sunlight.  Either the kids will learn the value of wearing the sunscreen and sunglasses, or maybe I’ll learn that they aren’t providing as much protection as I thought!

Gift-wise, I think they are just plain cool. I mean, common, they change color!  So many little girls love making bracelets etc. from beads.  This would be a more unique kind for them to play with, or share with their friends.

These bags were $5.95 each.  Granted, this is more than regular pony beads cost, but I think it’s worth it to have a few of these to play with.  I found them at too.  They are in the states however, and I figured that any cost savings on the beads themselves would be erased by the extra shipping, exchange and fees.  That site has a lot of cool science games and experiments too, and I may try ordering from there in the future.  If any of you do order from them, let me know how it went!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Nifty Thrifty Gifty: Rainbow Glasses

I stumbled upon these neat glasses while looking for some supplies for a school project.  I thought they’d be a funny add-on to our study of light so I had a bunch sent with my order from  Basically, they diffuse light and break it into the separate colors so you can see a “rainbow”.  It’s like wearing a prism on your face. 

Even Shawn and I have to laugh when we’re wearing them.  It’s just good silly fun.  While I probably won’t give them as a gift all by themselves, I think they will be a unique little thing to add with our packages this year.  They were only $1.95 each!  And in case you’re thinking of popping over to Science Is to order some for yourself, maybe wait a day or two until my next nifty thrifty gifty post, I have another neat item from this store coming up.  I just wanna give a quick plug for this store.  DSC_0141It’s a neat little store in the Calgary area that carries a ton of interesting gift and project supplies.  Some of the items I bought from there, I couldn't track down anywhere else , so it`s definitely worth a few minutes of browsing!

                                                My dining room light fixture through the glasses.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Exciting Purchases!!


Guess what this is???  It’s my colour scheme coming together!!
FabricLand is having a huge sale this week, so we decided to head over and grab the upholstery vinyl we want for the bench Shawn is building in our kitchen. He roughed out a plan last night so we would know how much we need, and I am very excited that he is at the design phase!!  I decided to wander around and see if I could find anything that caught my eye since everything in the store is 50 – 70 % off right now.  The orange cushions we had purchased a few weeks ago to be the back of the bench. I’m planning a buttery yellow wall colour. 

DSC_1537 I’m planning to use this one for valences over the two windows and a few matching pillows on the bench.


This one is a heavier fabric that I’ll use for pillows on the bench too.

The cushions are shiny and silky so it was hard to get the colour to show well in the picture.  In real life, though, it matches almost exactly the orange in the two materials.  I plan on having one wall painted this orange.

Mwahahahaha, I love it when a plan comes together even though I’m winging it!!

Is It Supper or Dinner?

You know, that meal you eat at the end of the day, the one that tends to be the biggest one of the day?  Around here, we’ve always called it supper.  Unless you’re eating at a restaurant, and then it’s going out for dinner.  Semantics aside, soon we will be enjoying this meal at lunch!

It occurred to me yesterday, “ Why am I trying to cook a large meal at the most stressful time of the day?!”.  I couldn’t come up with a real answer, besides, of course, that is what we’ve always done.  In our families, and probably most of yours too, the big meal is the one at the end of the day.

This wasn’t always the norm, though.  People haven’t always eaten a quick breakfast, dashed off to their days, stopping for a quick break mid day and returning home to the large meal.  For long amounts of time, breakfast, or the noon meal was the largest.

Our family is going to give this shot, and here’s why I think it will work for us.  Firstly, Shawn comes home for lunch anyway, so we’re all here.  We’ll be consuming our calories before we need them, especially Shawn who burns a gazillion calories working a labour job outside year round.  Instead of loading up our systems at the end of the day and then feeling stuffed at night, we’ll use the energy we get from the food.  I can cook and do chores first thing in the morning, when no one around here is alert enough to want to concentrate on anything anyway.  Then, after a nice meal, the two little ones can have a nap, and we’ll settle in to some school work.  I’ll be able to concentrate on lessons, because the work for day will be done, and I won’t be distracted by having to make a meal.  I won’t have to juggle tired kids and cooking at that hour that always seems to be the most stressful around here – 4:30.  When Shawn gets home, we can have a smaller meal, which for us was usually left overs anyway.  If he’s late, we won’t have over-tired and over-hungry kids melting down.  When we have evening activities, we won’t be in as much of a rush, since the quick meal takes less prep and less clean up.  When the evening activity is sports, the kids won’t have to run ( or dance) around on very full tummies.  I think we’ll end up feeling as though we have more family time in the evenings to do something together.

I’m sure it’s going to take a while to get used to not having the large meal at night, and we may feel really snackish the first couple days.  I’ve stocked up on lots of healthy finger foods to help us top up if we feel hungry.

Well, this is what I think is going to happen.  I’m trying to find ways to re-order my day to feel calmer and help me get things accomplished.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

  © Blog Design by Simply Fabulous Blogger Templates

Back to TOP