Saturday, August 25, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up: August 20-24

We're calling this our first official week of homeschooling kindergarten and PK in the Wallace house! Really, we only added one new thing this week to the lineup of subjects we've been doing fairly consistently throughout the summer, but I needed a date to call the beginning, so the 20th it was.

First, back to school pictures!

We worked on Explode the Code Primer A this week, mostly with the sound of k.  All About Reading had us working on the sounds and formation of the lower case letters h, i, j, and k.  We continued to do some math lab-type activities with our cuisenaire rods.  Our favorite this week was "Purple is having a party!" (Idea from Education Unboxed)

We did a fun fine motor exercise, "rescuing" counting bears from water with tongs. My little boys need to exercise those little hand muscles! Hazel does so voluntarily, neatly coloring pages and pages in her coloring books, but the boys? Notsomuch.

AND we started Five In a Row this week!! This was our new subject and it was (for the most part) a lot of fun! We are spending two weeks on each book/unit, so this was week one of two on The Story About Ping. One of our lessons included a glance at the culture and location of China. We read a book about China and found it on our map. We did an activity counting and stamping all the ducks in Ping's family. There are a LOT of them, and some of us (mostly Mom) lost patience with it in the end. We agreed that it might be fun to have 42 cousins, though, so Uncle Nathan and Aunt Stephanie, and Uncle Matt and Aunt Sarah, get on that! Our last lesson was about fiction, what a fiction story is, and that the opener "Once upon a time..." can be a good clue that we're about to read a work of fiction.

A couple a go-along books that we enjoyed during read aloud time this week were Daisy Comes Home and How Do You Count a Dozen Ducklings? Daisy Comes Home is one that one of the kids pulled randomly from the library shelf a few months ago.  It is set in China and overlaps in several ways with Ping.  I made a note to re-check it when we got to this FIAR unit.  It's such an adorable story!  How Do You Count a Dozen Ducklings? is about a mama duck who wants to simplify keeping up with her ducklings, so she continually regroups them to make counting easier.  6 pairs, 4 groups of 3, 2 groups of 6, and so on.  Great exposure to the factors of 12 in a cute little story!

Thanks for reading about our week!  I'm going to try to post every weekend, but I make no promises of absolute consistency.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

laundry soap

I have several friends who make their own laundry detergent.  I was fascinated by this, especially since they are (for the most part) normal friends.  Not super crazy granola type friends.  It sounded so easy, and they all swore by its effectiveness.  Given that they are all families with young kids like mine, I knew they had similar laundry piles full of mud, spilled food and drink, and other nastiness.  I decided to try it.  What was there to lose?

There are a bajillion make-your-own laundry detergent tutorials online, both powder and liquid varieties.  The vast majority make use of the same handful of ingredients, in slightly different proportions.  I decided to go with making a powder for my first attempt (liquid involves cooking, and I was interested in simplicity), and I followed the proportions my friend Milli suggested, so I'd have someone to blame if I hated it (kidding!).

Ingredients, all purchased at Wal-Mart.

The trip to Wal-Mart was by far the most painful part of this process.  I looked at Target first, since I am often there more than once a week, but they didn't have Fels-Naptha or Super Washing Soda.  I hear that Ivory (in the people soap aisle) or Zote (also on my Wal-Mart laundry soap aisle) are also good soaps for this process.  I chose Fels because I liked the way it smelled better than Zote.  Zote is pink though, which I admit appeals to me.  It would be nice to have pink flecks in my laundry soap.

Process: I grated one bar of Fels-Naptha in my food processor, and then dumped it in a bucket with 2 cups of Super Washing Soda, 2 cups of Borax, 1/2 cup of salt, and then I decided at the end to throw in a cup of Oxi-clean powder that was sitting on my laundry room shelf.  I figured it couldn't hurt.

I put the lid on my bucket and shook vigorously to mix it all up.  Ta-da! Looks (and smells!) like laundry detergent.

I tested it with Charlie's bedding.  2 Tbs of soap in my front-loading washer seemed to work great!  They came out looking and smelling just like clean laundry should.  I've got my second load in the washer now.  I'll continue to try this throughout the next few weeks and I'll post an update for you after some more extensive testing.  We'll see what we think!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Curriculum 2012-2013

I've been reading a lot of blogs answering the question, "What curriculum are you using this year?" I decided to write a post of my own.  Mostly, I think it'll be funny to re-read this in 6-9 months and laugh at how much things changed.  I'm still VERY new at this, still figuring out my kids and their learning styles and preferences, and I'm not at all confident that what I won't change my mind about one or more of these as we go along.

My kids are newly 4 and newly 5.  They are all working at at a PK/K level.  Here's what we're working on now, and what we plan to add or grow into over the course of the year:

Currently we are about halfway through All About Reading pre-level 1, a PK level reading readiness program.  The kids LOVE this program, and its accompanying puppet, Ziggy the zebra.  I think Ziggy will forever be our school mascot. We should finish this by the end of October, and then we'll be working on phonics and learning to read with Phonics Pathways.  All of the kids have started occasional lessons in Phonics Pathways and it seems to be a good fit.  It will become a larger focus in our day after we finish AAR, though.

In addition to the above, we have been practicing letter sounds with the Explode the Code primers.  These have been really good for all of my kids, reinforcing their phonics skills in an enjoyable way.  I expect we'll finish the primers (Get Ready, Get Set, and Go for the Code) this year, and maybe start the main ETC series.  Who knows?  We'll take it at their pace.

We have been using Handwriting Without Tears' PK level materials since January.  They are so fun and have been a wonderful fit for all of my active hands-on kids.  We should finish our PK workbook around mid-year and start the K level at that point.

This is the biggest question mark.  Right now, we're doing a lot of "math lab" play with cuisenaire rods.  I have been getting ideas for c-rod play from the videos on Education Unboxed.  I've started reading through the teacher materials for Miquon math, an elementary math curriculum that uses c-rods as its main manipulative.  I also plan to try Singapore Math's first kindergarten book, maybe in the spring?  Still thinking through all of this.

All the Other Stuff (history, geography, science, and art) will be covered through Five in a Row.  I am so, so, SO excited about this.  We start it in another week or so, and plan to "row" a book every couple of weeks.  I expect we'll thoroughly enjoy this literature unit study approach to learning.  Our FIAR book list this year includes:

The Story About Ping
Mr. Grumpy's Motorcar (correction, Mr. GUMPY's Motorcar--how disappointing! I wanted him to be "Grumpy"!)
The Salamander Room
How to Bake an Apple Pie and See the World
A New Coat for Anna
Katy and the Big Snow
Harold and the Purple Crayon
The Tale of Peter Rabbit
Make Way for Ducklings
The Story of Ferdinand
Papa Piccolo
Mirette and the High Wire
Wee Gillis
Andy and the Lion

We are outsourcing music to Musikgarten, and our wonderful Ms. Carla.  My kids have missed her this summer!  We are looking into a homeschool PE class, and I'm sure we'll try another sport in the fall once I have a chance to look over the schedule at the Y.

So that's it.  Gosh, sounds like a lot when I write it all out!  Here's to PK4 and Kindergarten!