February 24, 2012


I started introducing spelling to my first grader this week.  Now, he has been spelling for some time by copying words, phrases, and sentences from the line above or from somewhere else on the page, or occasionally from the chalkboard.  We just never called it spelling, since the focus was on proper formation of the letters themselves.  (His handwriting has improved greatly by reducing the amount he wrote each day to as few as 4 words, then gradually building it back up; I am quite pleased with it now.)

I decided to pull out the magnetic letters that we've had since he was about 2 years old and put them to use, along with a baking pan that's seen better days.  Here, we shuffled and I introduced him to alphabetizing.

I left out Q, X and Z, in case you are trying to figure it out :)  We won't be spelling with those for a while, I figure.

I used the side of the pan for the word we were looking at, to reduce visual clutter.  This also made it really easy  to flip it around where he couldn't see it when he was air-writing it from the picture in his mind.
We went through quite a few 3-letter words this week - those ending in -at, -ar, -ur, -ut, and a few more.  He seems to like it, as long as I don't do too many at a time.

Today, to change things up and because there are 3 preschoolers in the house on Fridays, this was our project instead.  The great thing about a marshmallow and toothpick structure is that you get to eat it when you tear it apart!

Three-Day School Week

Because of the arrival of preschool foster children (who don't attend school on Friday around here), I wrote out his schedule for 4 days a week.  Normally, this works fairly well.  When public school is out for a holiday (President's Day this time), this makes for a 3-day week, which can be challenging.  He has to put in so many hours to satisfy state law, and I don't like to push off readings until the next week unless absolutely necessary, so we doubled-up.

We did about 3 readings each day, in addition to his own reading practice, copywork and arithmetic.  Since we finished working on phonics, we have moved on to spelling.  Our day looks something like this:
-Bible story
-Recite Bible verses (4+ per day)
-Read 1-3 poems from A.A. Milne's Now We Are Six.
-Work on math
-Read from Ambleside Online's book list (see weekly schedule, term 3)
-Copy work
-More math - I found Xtra Math, and after a few days of resisting, this is working really well at improving his speed at basic arithmetic.  Its free and very simple to set up and use.  A friend also let me borrow the first Life of Fred book, Apples, which I will work in next week.
-Another reading
-piano practice (this is still VERY short and involves arguing daily.  I miss KinderBach!)
-extra (rotate listening to composer, looking at art work, studying nature, sewing)
-any other readings we need to finish

In addition to it being a 3 day school week, it got a little crazy with my husband going to the emergency room Sunday night and staying almost 24 hours in the hospital.  He's okay, though.  Well enough to go on the planned business trip on Wednesday-Saturday.  Never a dull moment...

February 18, 2012

Ambleside Online Pinterest Project

I started a project about a week ago for users of Ambleside Online.  When our foster baby went home, I wanted to occupy myself with something useful and had the idea of making Pinterest boards for all the Ambleside years' books.  Along with that, I started a variety of additional boards, such as Nature Study~Science, History~Geography, Bible~Character, Art, and Music Education.  If you are an Ambleside Online curriculum user, feel free to follow my boards here.   The majority of links will be useful to any homeschooler, so take a look around!
If you've already started following me on Pinterest, thank you!  Its exciting to think I'm helping out fellow AO homeschooler's in this small way.  I have gotten 4 more foster children this week, which you can read about here; so, it may take me a while to finish out the rest of years' boards, but I'll get there :)

*Edited to add image.  I have gotten the AO books & resources listed through Year 7 now, and have greatly expanded my other boards.

February 15, 2012

Year 1, Term 3 has begun!

Monday and Tuesday weren't bad.  I'm fighting a cold and haven't been at full speed, but that has been balanced by not having any foster kids in the house during school hours, so things are getting done. 

Today was terrible, and I'm not sure why.  I kept my cool, better than usual even...maybe he was ramping it up to see when I would lose it.  Well, I didn't so much as raise my voice, and he almost made himself sick with the fits he was throwing.  He hasn't gotten that bent of shape in a really long time, thank goodness...and maybe that will be the worst for the rest of this school year.

We persevered and got through the school day, and went on to his handicraft hour with my mother-in-law.  He is now doing machine sewing, and today he took the pins out from where they had cut the pattern last time.  Then he sewed and ironed his first pocket onto the apron!

February 9, 2012

End of Year 1, Term 2

Ambleside Online is set up for three terms per school year.  Each term consists of 12 weeks, for a total of 36 weeks per school year, not including breaks.  The schedule showing booklists and schedules by year is here;  the weekly breakdown for Year 1 is here.  Below I've listed some extra details or changes by week below.

In addition to the readings listed, we included artist (Albert Bierstadt), composer (Felix Mendelssohn) and nature study weekly, as well as folk song (Carrigfergus); daily scripture memorization, phonics/reading, copywork and math;  Spanish (4-5x a week), and piano/music theory (2-3x a week).  For PE, he made the best of the unseasonably warm weather and jumped on the trampoline almost daily.

Week 13 (3 day week for us, due to public school schedule)
The Bible: David, shepherd boy; David and Goliath; Psalm 150
Read The Velveteen Rabbit and watched the  movie

Week 14
The Bible: Bartimaeus, Naaman the Leper, and Psalm 150
Poem a day from A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson
Handbook of Nature Study (HONS) - Game birds and Turkey

Week 15 (2 day week due to Thanksgiving)
The Bible: Psalm 150 and a DVD Bible Story/song

Week 16
The Bible: Daniel chapters 5 and 6; Psalm 23

Week 17
Poem a day, from When We Were Very Young

Week 18
Nine Tales: How Two Went Into Partnership
Blue Fairy Book: "Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp"

Christmas Vacation!! (2 foster children return to family and we had a great break)

Week 19
The Bible: Prodigal son, Good shepherd, Ascension

Week 20 (we got 4 new foster sons this week, all unrelated!)

Week 21
The Bible - character study
HONS - canary, goldfinch and robin

Week 22
HONS - bluebird and nuthatch (and our bluebirds did show up to our birdhouse!)

Week 23 (2 of the 4 foster boys return to family; stomach bug strikes)
Shakespeare: "The Winter's Tale" (finished)
George Washington by Ingri D'Aulaire (finished)

Week 24 (stomach bug strikes back, but still did the readings)

As far as pleasure reading goes, we have continue with the Little House on the Prairie series, and are only a few chapters away from finishing Farmer Boy (book 3).  We were only supposed to read the first book and then go on to other authors, but he loves them so!  We have also read Pocahantas by d'Aulaire (finished today).

I feel like the term went pretty well, but absolutely flew by!!

The bad - It was busy with foster children coming and going, and with the holidays interrupting...I would like to have the holidays fall in-between terms, and may work on that for later this year.  I continue to feel like we are spinning wheels in math, even though he is learning some new concepts and continuing to practice the old.  He's just very reluctant.  I'm considering trying Life of Fred to make it more fun.  Also, I haven't been consistent with the nature notebook and study.

The good - He finished the first phonics program and is cruising along the Ginn Basic Readers, albeit reluctantly.  He is much more willing to read them if he can do so silently.  I am becoming more comfortable with that after just a few days, and am starting to see signs that he may one day happily read on his own.  His narration is improving, but he still lacks confidence and is easily frustrated.  I'm working on my part in that as well.  Also, because of beautiful winter weather, we were able to get outside much more than I expected!

So there is my recap of term 2!  Hope it helps someone else on their journey :)

Previous Posts

Here are the links to my posts on my personal, foster parenting blog regarding our home school and resources that we may use.

Why I Homeschool

Resources, Part 1 and Part 2

Sample Schedule for AO year 0.5

August & September 2011, Getting started with Ambleside Online:
Happy Not-back-to-school Day!
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 6

And then it got busy and I got side-tracked!   Let's see if I can be more intentional about keeping a good record this year :)

February 8, 2012

Let's Get Specific!

I have decided to split the home school blogging apart from the rest of my foster parenting, health-related and occasional political postings.  Unfortunately, 'Windy Hill' was taken at blogger, so Windy Hill Home School it is!  I was glad to see it was still available, so have snatched it up before someone else does. :)

I will attempt to repost the school related posts over here, and if that isn't possible, I will just do a single post with links to the other school posts.  We can start fresh here in 2012, where I hope to get back to a weekly log of what we've been doing, more posting of resources that we use or want to use, and maybe even start linking up with Blog Carnivals, which sounds so fun!

Here's to our freedom as Americans - may we always educate our own children, whether they attend public school or not!