Friday, March 29, 2013

Five Fact Friday

This post is part of "5 on Friday" a link-up at The Pebble Pond, so check out the fun!

1.  We have not even started our bird study yet, but Elliott has been drawing birds all week.  I pulled out a "How to Draw . . . " type book, and he went right for it.  He started with this robin since we're seeing a lot of those right now, and he added the picture to his nature journal.  Then he draw a parrot, and is now working on a woodpecker.  I believe we will have fun with our bird studies!

2.  I need a haircut.   Eleanor is almost 9 weeks old now, and I know I haven't had one since before she was born.  It's so hard to make mom-time, especially when you have a nursing infant who has convinced her dad that she doesn't like being held against his chest as much as mom's.  ;-)

3.  Speaking of Eleanor, she hates the car.  We are never in the car for more than ten minutes before she starts fussing, and it doesn't take long to escalate into a full blown scream.  I was spoiled by the boys, who would sleep for hours in the car, and quite honestly, at this point I am dreading our vacation.

4.  I have a whole stack of books, waiting to be read.  I love to read, but never seem to find the time for my own reading anymore.  We'll be in the car tomorrow for at least an hour one way, so I plan to take a book with me.  Not that I anticipate it being quite enough to concentrate with Eleanor's disdain for travel.

5.  I want to go to Wendy's, but not for the food.  We stopped the other night (husband wanted chili) and the boys got these neat little connector things.  The paper faces went into the trash, but these little things have been so much fun for Emory.  He has been building "bridges" and "transformer bad guys" and has not let them out of his sight.  As silly as it sounds saying I want to ask if I can buy a kid's meal toy separately, I actually wouldn't mind having another couple of packs of these.  In my head, I'm thinking that they are way less annoying than Lego bricks.  They are very easy for him to manipulate without any help at all, they stay connected very well . . . and they would fit neatly into a large zip-top bag, which would make for a nice Activity Bag for tot school or a car ride.

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Free Educents $10 Gift Card

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Have you heard of Educents?  Educents is a new daily deals website that launches April 2nd.  They will offer daily flash deals for educational products, books, curriculum, toys and more.  They are currently offering a FREE $10 gift card in celebration of their launching when you sign up with your email!  This deal ends April 2nd, so be sure to get yours now!

(Note, this is a referral link.  Please read my about section for more information.)

©2011-2013 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Math U See - Alpha {Schoolhouse Review}

If you ask Elliott what his favorite subject is, he will answer math in a heartbeat.  Although I realized he enjoyed playing with numbers, I still elected to delay starting a formal math curriculum until he was closer to age six, as I did with all subjects.  Now, just a few months after his sixth birthday, he has flown right through our first program with ease, but I knew he needed something else, perhaps with a different approach, to keep him engaged.  The opportunity to review Math U See came at the perfect time!  We were blessed with Alpha, which is the second level of the program.

Math U See was created by Steve Demme, a math teacher and homeschooling father, in response to requests from fellow homeschoolers.  Math U See is a complete, comprehensive, mastery based program.  Each level focuses on one topic in-depth so that the student truly masters the concept before moving on.  It is a multi-sensory program that uses manipulatives to help make concepts concrete.  Because Math U See uses manipulatives, I believed my tactile learner would benefit.

There are no grade levels to Math U See.  It is about skill, mastery and understanding, and it doesn't follow a traditional scope and sequence since it focuses on one general topic.  Alpha is described as "addition & subtraction for single-digit numbers and other topics" and focuses on conceptual understanding and fluency.  The other topics include telling time, fractions, skip counting, word problems and more.

I felt like Alpha was a good place to start--some review, but particularly because of the more thorough coverage of topics.  I want my children to have a FIRM understanding of math before we move on.

I received the following for the Alpha program:
Instruction Pack (Manual and Instructional DVD) - $43.00
Student Pack (Workbook and Test Book) - $30.00
Manipulative Blocks - $38.00/ea

How It Works In Our Home
  • I review the lesson in the teacher's manual and look at the examples
  • We watch the video lesson together 
  • Elliott likes to work through the problems with Mr. Steve on his dry-erase board
  • If he needs practice with a newer concept, we work through one lesson practice page per day until I know he understands
  • For concepts he seems to understand, we jump straight to the Systematic Review and/or the Application & Enrichment pages 

I love that the program stresses going at the student's pace.  If my son needs review, it's there, but if he is ready to move on, we get to move on so it does not become boring or monotonous.

There is a test booklet, but because we're working together, and I know when he masters a concept, I don't see the need to test.  I think it is more appropriate for older students who work independently, or families who need it for record keeping purposes.  I also like the suggestion that teachers can use it for additional practice if needed There are also Parent Resources online for creating extra practice too.

What Do We Think?
I like that the video allows someone with math knowledge to gently, but thoroughly explain concepts to my son.  We all know how children respond to parents sometimes, so it is a nice little "break" for me as the teacher.

Math U See teaches in a sequential manner, layering one topic onto another, which I like.  I believe it is truly multi-sensory in that it has audio, visual and kinesthetic approaches built in.  The student is encouraged to BUILD, WRITE, SAY which addresses the needs of different types of learners.

Elliott loves the videos and loves the blocks.  It makes math even more fun for him.  I think the program seems very thorough for younger students, and what's more, my son likes it.  He asks for math, he likes Mr. Steve, and he understands what he is doing.  He already enjoyed math, so I was worried that "fixing what isn't broken" with a curriculum switch might be a bad thing, but I think I found a program that just improves upon my son's natural inclination towards math!

Keep Reading
Math U See FAQ
What's New 2013
Placement Tests

Math U See offers all levels of math, from introductory material all the way up to Calculus, and my crew mates have reviewed all levels of Math U See, so be sure to hop on over and check out what they have to say!

This Graphic contains the FTC Regulations statement for reviews

©2011-2013 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Picture This . . .

This week's Blog Cruise theme is Our Homeschool Day in Pictures.  Now, I'll be honest with you.  There is no way I could record our day from start to finish.  I'm just not that methodical or organized.  So instead, here are the sweet, the silly, the goofy, the rotten and the random moments that make up our day . . .

We all know that no two homeschool days are the same, and no two families are the same, so be sure to check out the daily happenings of my Crew Mates!

©2011-2013 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Monday, March 25, 2013

B is for BIRDS: Free Ornithology Resources

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The timing of this post just happened to fit so well with the Blogging Through the Alphabet series.  Elliott and I were doing some bird watching last week, but I quickly realized I don't know enough species to be of any help to him.

So in our quest for more information about our visitors, I stumbled across some really neat free educational resources for birds!  The Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton Burgess is part of Ambleside Online Year 1 Science, but since not all of the chapters are covered in the curriculum, I thought we should start this spring so we can cover more species.  I also figured I better look up some resources to make our nature study more interesting and informative.  I've compiled this list of free ornithology resources, and I thought I might share them, in case anyone else is interested.  (If not, I still have it for myself all in one place!)  Most of these are backyard birds, as that will be our focus.  However, there are a few other types of birds in these resources.  I'll be looking to add more since we are thinking about visiting an aviary in a couple months.

photo taken at Parrot Mountain

Burgess Bird Book Resources
The Burgess Bird Book for Children Kindle edition is free
The Burgess Bird Book for Children audio recording from Librivox
Satori Smiles has a Burgess Bird Book Companion
Montessori cards for the Burgess Bird Book

Identification, Pictures and Songs
All About Birds is a fantastic identification resource
North American Birds Photography has nice photographs for viewing
North American Bird Sounds has songs, calls and even wing flaps of birds
A fantastic day-by-day photographic journey from egg to robins!

Lessons and Activities
Bird Sleuth  has free K-12 resources for teachers and home educators
The National Bird Feeding Society has a section for to conservation and education
Birds from Handbook of Nature Study
Backyard Birds Lap - n - Note from Homeschool Share
Homeschool Share has all of their bird units, lapbooks and games on one page

Early Learning
Emory will surely be interested in learning about birds with his brother, so I rounded up a few early learning activities to pick and choose from as well.

Preschool bird printables from Homeschool Creations
Kindergarten Bird Printables from Homeschool Creations
Birds Preschool Pack from 1+1+1=1
N is for Nest from Confessions of a Homeschooler
Birds Eating Worms fine motor activity from Pre-Kinders

Bird Cams
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has several bird cams
The National Conservation Training Center has a Live EagleCam in West Virginia

Worksheets and Coloring Pages
Kidsparkz has a little bit of everything
Cornell offers a very nice coloring book with many common birds
Montessori Print Shop offers a couple of free bird resources
State symbols, with activity and coloring pages for each state's bird
Bird Watching Bliss offers free coloring pages
Free Printable Coloring Pages has cartoon bird coloring pages for fun

Art, Crafts and Handicrafts
Hodgepodge has chalk pastel tutorials for a bird's nest and several types of birds
Deep Space Sparkle offers numerous bird art projects
Winter Food Cake recipe for birds
Bird Crafts for kids
Crafts and Learning Activities for young children

Do you know of any quality resources that I should add?

This post is part of Marcy's Blogging Through the Alphabet, so be sure to find out what fantastic "B" topics others are sharing!

Blogging Through the Alphabet

©2011-2013 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Peek at our Bookshelf - Easter

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I've been slacking off with sharing what we are reading,  Well, I've been slacking off on the reading, actually. I know, you're probably thinking What kind of homeschooling mother doesn't read aloud to her kids!? but it is what it is.  It has been so easy to use the excuse that Belle needed to be held when things don't get finished, but that's not really a good excuse for reading.  She prefers to lay against my chest, which leaves my hands relatively free.  So I promised myself we will start reading aloud again, at least once a day.

So in order to make sure Iron Man was interested in what we read, I let him pick our chapter book.  He liked the title of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl, so we're going to give it a try.  We started the first chapter, and he actually listened while he worked on a puzzle.  The next day he listened while he drew a picture, and then he came and cuddled with me.  I think letting him "do" something mindless like that helps him from feeling restless (which is discouraging when I'm trying to read aloud) so I might try to find a few quiet activities to rotate.  He has also asked me "What happened next at the chocolate factory?" so I take it he is listening and is interested in this one.

I was doing a preschool lapbook with Hulk, who was asking for school work like his big brother, and wouldn't you know, Iron Man wanted to do "something like..." his little brother.  So I found a lapbook from Homeschool Share to go with The Legend of the Easter Egg.  It's timely, and will give me an idea as to how he actually likes lapbooks, as we've never done them before.

Hulk doesn't necessarily have the attention span for our longer books yet, so I pulled out all of our picture books about Easter . . . or books that could be potentially associated with Easter because they have rabbits in them.  So far we've read Home for a Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown and The Night Before Easter by Natasha Wing.


I also plan to read The Complete Adventures of Peter Rabbit.  Beatrix Potter stories are recommended for AO Year 0, but I don't think we've even read all four of the stories in this book.  I also set out The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, which is an AO Year 1 free read, but we've listened to it several times as an audio book, so I'm fine if we don't get to it in the next couple of weeks.


So that's my plan for the next two weeks.  I have a tendency to make a lot of plans and not really follow through, but reading aloud is the easiest of those plans to stick to, so please . . . hold me accountable!

Linked Up:  Reading Aloud Challenge, Read Aloud Thursday

©2011-2013 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Monday, March 18, 2013

A is for Ambleside Online

I am so very excited that we will soon be starting Ambleside Online.  I credit this (free) curriculum for sparking my interest in Charlotte Mason when I was researching homeschooling styles and methods.  I've looked into other programs, but I keep coming back to Ambleside Online.

So far, I have primarily been focusing on Year 0.  It is not really a year of curriculum, but rather a guide for the first 6 years before formal schooling begins.  It works very well for the preschool years.  We focused on quality children's picture books, nature study, music, poetry, forming good habits, and informal learning through puzzles and games.  It is such a gentle introduction into education and I am so glad I found it in the beginning.

impromptu nature study with dad

After doing about a year of Year 0, Iron Man was ready for a little "more" during his Kindergarten year.  I have referred to this as Year 0.5 before, which is an unofficial year, sort of a bridge into formal learning.  We added a reading and math curriculum.  To enhance his nature studies he started a nature journal.  We've dabbled in a little Art and Spanish.  We had the occasional history study through holidays.  It has been a year of transition for us - formal schooling, moving and adding a sibling - but we're plugging along, and gearing up for next year.

drawing the Mayflower

First Grade
Next school year, however, he will be almost 7 years old.  We will be required to notify, and I'll be using Year 1 as our primary curriculum. We will have an actual schedule, but I love that it is flexible.  It is more of an outline than a checklist, which suits my needs perfectly.  There are weekly history, geography, science, and literature readings, but I choose when we do them.  Bible, poetry, math, copywork, and reading instruction are added daily by me.  Then our goal is to have music, art, nature study and handicrafts weekly.  I also want to be more consistent with Spanish.  In no way am I ready to have a first grader, but at the same time I am excited to offer him a rigorous education and I really hope to instill a love of learning in him.

 Blogging Through the Alphabet

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Tot School: Alphabet Week

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Hulk is starting to show more interest in doing school work with his brother.  I'm a firm believer in less is more at his age, and I don't think he's quite ready for "Pre-K" type work.  However, I don't want to discourage him, either.  So right now, we'll just focus on a very generalized theme each week.  He will get his own basket, and I'll fill it with books, puzzles, games and/or toys related to the theme.

This week's theme . . .
The Alphabet 

Puzzles and Games

We have both a capital and lowercase foam puzzle (Dollar Tree) so I put both of those in his basket and we named the letters as we took them out and put them back in.

I bought these ABC cards at the dollar tree a long time ago; probably in one of those 3-packs of card games.  We matched up the pictures and practiced saying our letter sounds.


We have a few basic (a - apple, b-bear, c-cat) type alphabet books, but I want our reading time to focus on more engaging books.  We have a few interesting books on our shelves, so I made sure to get them all out.  No pictures, though, as we all four cuddled on the couch for some reading time.


We played a few iPad games...too bad I have terrible memory and can't remember any names except angry bird star wars.

The barn and animals were from a neighbor, and Hulk has always loved farm animals, so this has been a huge hit.

Wearing their new Star Wars Angry Birds hooded blankets!  I love the rotten smiles!

It's been a quiet week with just a few activities, but the beautiful weekend was spent outdoors having fun!  Next week's theme is Colors Of the Rainbow/St. Patrick's Day, so we should have a  little fun!

Linked Up:  Tot School Gathering Place

©2011-2013 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Six Week Milestone

I cannot believe she is already six weeks old!  It seems like yesterday that I was blogging about how she was never coming out!

Here's a picture of Ms. Eleanor, relaxing and watching her brothers play.

There are days when I find myself thinking "I forgot how hard this baby thing is . . . " and then I look down and see one of those sweet baby smiles, and all the negative thoughts disappear.  The difficult moments are only seconds in the grand scheme of things, and I should be focusing on the precious, the happy, the breathtaking moments.  This time next year, she'll be toddling around chasing her brothers, and I have to remember to treasure every second with the blessings that have been bestowed upon me.

©2011-2013 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.