Friday, March 13, 2015

Weekly Homeschool Wrap-Up 3/13

Outside my window:
Last week it was below-freezing winter in which we craved a blanket at every turn. What a change a week makes when it's March! In like a lion indeed; out like a lamb, thank the Lord. There is still snow on the ground, for it started in mid-January and really didn't stop, so there are layers and layers of melting to accomplish, but this week's high thirties to mid-forties certainly made a dent. 

Underneath of course, is mud, which will last a while. The kids are already bringing mud in on their clothes and boots. Spring is exciting but messy in Ohio.

On my mind:
I couldn't help feeling discouraged this week regarding school. I felt like we didn't accomplish enough. We were back at the hospital for Beth's infusion Tuesday (after this we go to thirty-day increments), and Wednesday I had a much-needed eye appointment. Friday morning we take husband to the airport for his trip to Florida to check on and visit his 92-year-old father.

Running around because of an over-scheduled week is fine for families in which everyone is working ahead, but with dyslexia and OCD and ADHD making things more difficult here, we can't afford the luxury of frequent outings, no matter the reason. So there's that.

I turned 49 this week so there's that too. Getting old is cruel. It just is, unless your children have left or will be leaving the nest soon. I am trying hard to trust God for the future and for today's peace. I never would have chosen to start a family so late, but I wasn't saved until age 31 and not married until 33, so this is my life and mostly, I do love it immensely. 

I was emotionally lost in my twenties, even though I had a professional job and took good care of myself and didn't drink, smoke or take drugs. I was still lost due to having grown up with an addicted parent. Lost people ideally shouldn't get married, so I am grateful the Lord, even though I didn't know Him yet, kept me single until I was saved and ready.

So...forgive me for that sob story. The Lord is good all the time, even when you have messed-up parents. I am going to be okay and so are my children.

The other discouraging thing is that the girls are just not making progress with their numbers (or at least it's extremely slow), and I've given up hope that the addition facts will be memorized according to Saxon math's plan, in which you memorize all the doubles and build on from there. 

Saxon seems like a curriculum that must be supplemented...but then, I've never met a math curriculum, other than Teaching Textbooks, that didn't need supplementing.

Spending the money was painful, but I bought some TouchMath which will allow Mary and Beth to add and subtract numbers quickly without memorization, without fingers, and without objects being necessary. I use this method myself when I have a long column of numbers to add. Not having a mathematical mind myself, I can only keep so many numbers in my head before messing up.

TouchMath is the only multisensory, hands-on program out there that includes a manipulative you always have available--the touch points on the numbers 1 - 9. The numbers one through five have single points to touch and count, and 6, 7, 8, and 9 have a combination of double-count points--a dot with a circle around it--and single-count points.

If you want to add 9 and 7, you say the nine and count the seven dots onto it to arrive at the answer. So, you're teaching the counting-on method, but with a "manipulative", and with a visual cue of what the number means, rather than two random symbols, which kids aren't necessarily ready for in the primary years. All kids can be taught to add, but can they really visualize what they're doing, with the numbers being mere symbols?

Special-needs kids need another option, other than memorizing or using fingers, to solve facts. It may take years for the memorization to occur, and in the meantime, they need to be able to cipher.

To subtract using TouchMath, you say the top number, and count backwards using the dots on the bottom number. So if your top number is 9, and you want to take 6 from it, you touch and say the 9 (without actually counting nine) and then touch the dots on the six, counting down to the answer. "Nine--eight, seven, six, five, four, three.

I also like the way it teaches double-digit addition/subtraction and place value. Saxon is weak in these two areas, especially.

Like Saxon, it doesn't feature overly-busy, overly-colored worksheets designed to impress parents and overwhelm kids. Simple is better, when it comes to a worksheet.

It may seem like the dots can be confusing, but kids take to them quickly. The school I taught at bought some of this program and my first graders took to the number dots in less than a week. Because it's ideal for special-ed and for dyscalculia/dyslexia students and not necessary for regular ed, my school didn't use it for long. 

TouchMath offers traditional school packages and homeschool packages (as downloads), but let me warn you, they charge an awful lot for their materials--so much that it angered me, but I felt my girls really needed another option. My advice is to buy the supplemental workbooks rather than a whole-grade package, at least to start. They do have a money-back guarantee on their products.

Saxon first grade worksheet

Mary feels like crying when she sees this Saxon page. She can't remember the answers, and there are too many on the page for a frustrated dyslexic. And what's with the way Saxon writes 9's and 4's? I hate it. To a dyslexic, that 9 looks exactly like the 6. The Saxon four is featured on the Saxon hundred's chart above.

Paul works with Beth on her AWANA verses, and he likes to make up a dance for them, because Beth loves moving and dancing, being a tactile-kinesthetic learner. Here they are, working on a "routine" together.

This leftover chicken noodle, prepared the night after we had a whole chicken, was the only yummy lunch served this week. Just cheese sandwiches or PB&J the other days.

Last Saturday Daddy took the girls to a women's college basketball game. They wanted to know what it was like, and husband had free tickets from an elderly lady at work who can't use many of her season tickets. The games are super loud, which the girls didn't like. The band plays loudly, and there are other loud noises as well.

Thank the Lord for Teaching Textbooks Math! It leads to peace and harmony and learning each day without a glitch. Okay, so maybe it does over do the long division, but most kids need the repetition.

We checked out a Magic School Bus DVD, and afterwards the kids went crazy with catapults. They had a ball and tried out different styles and used different objects to catapult. It was a hoot.

Beth doing some personal reading practice.
Thank God for this little bottle, because Peter's OCD was rampant this week and my nerves and hormones were frazzled. My doctor says it is the caffeine in over-the-counter headache medicines that cause the rebound effect. She said coffee drinkers get rebound headaches too. I don't drink coffee and drink tea almost never. Do you get a headache if you don't have a morning cup of coffee (coffee drinker question)? It is hard to believe that every coffee drinker suffers awful headaches from missing a cup. Without the caffeine, the headache lasts far longer, so I can't quit these Excedrins just yet. Thank goodness they came out with a milder version, which has just regular strength acetaminophen and caffeine, nothing else.

While at the waiting room in the infusion center, Beth was delighted at this toy from the playroom.

There are computers in the waiting room as well, which kept the three older ones busy so I could go back with Beth and support her during this trying time. She hates these infusions.

She always starts with a drink to wash down the Benadryl, which prevents an allergic reaction to the Orencia (rheumatoid arthritis drug). Mom doesn't buy chocolate milk cartons, so she was delighted. They put patches on both hands to numb them for the IV insertion (takes 20 minutes to do the numbing) and then we need an hour and a half after that before we can go home. I make these appointments for 3 PM, but leading up to them Beth is out of sorts. If I make them in the morning, the Benadryl would make her too sleepy for school, so there's no easy solution. We will be doing them indefinitely once a month now.

I think she enjoys being alone with Mommy. The first couple times the other three children were in the room too and that was harder. The nurse said they were welcome to stay in the waiting room to use the computers and toys, so that will really work out for us. They do a little school work out there too, and Peter and Paul keep a sharp eye on Mary, who at eight years old is a little young to be in the waiting room without a parent.
Some good books to read:

Look at my Book: How Kids Can Write and Illustrate Terrific Books by Loreen Leedy

Kirkus ReviewsKids can write, edit, illustrate, and bind their own books. Leedy answers every young author's questions in this abundantly illustrated how-to. Readers follow three authors, a boy, a girl, and a dog, from idea to storyboarding to editing to layout through illustration methods and finally to binding their creations. Most topics get a page; a few fill a two-page spread. Leedy's signature illustrations, bright and friendly, use vignettes to show each author thinking and working through the writing process with text of thoughts or speech in cartoon bubbles. The young authors instruct by doing and a list of tips complements each of the lessons. A page of further reading, resources, and publishing ideas completes the package. Most youngsters will need help with some vocabulary and ideas, but elementary teachers couldn't hope for a better invitation to the art and craft of writing. (Nonfiction. 4-10)

A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat by Emily Jenkins (Published February, 2015)

Goodreads Synopsis: In this fascinating picture book, four families, in four different cities, over four centuries, make the same delicious dessert: blackberry fool. This richly detailed book ingeniously shows how food, technology, and even families have changed throughout American history. 

In 1710, a girl and her mother in Lyme, England, prepare a blackberry fool, picking wild blackberries and beating cream from their cow with a bundle of twigs. The same dessert is prepared by a slave girl and her mother in 1810 in Charleston, South Carolina; by a mother and daughter in 1910 in Boston; and finally by a boy and his father in present-day San Diego. 

Kids and parents alike will delight in discovering the differences in daily life over the course of four centuries. 

Includes a recipe for blackberry fool and notes from the author and illustrator about their research.
My note: We loved, loved, loved this! A beautifully illustrated book and a very clever way to teach American history.

Make Your Mark, Franklin Roosevelt by Judith St. George

Goodreads SynopsisYoung Franklin Roosevelt grew up knowing the finer things in life— sailing, horseback riding, and foxhunts on his family’s large estate. Growing up wealthy meant he could live a gentleman’s life, like his beloved papa. Yet gentlemen weren’t supposed to go into politics, right? But why not? As young Franklin learns from a famous uncle and a famous mentor, there is more to the world than he thought. And about politics? Well, maybe there is more to that, too. Complete with lively illustrations by new illustrator Britt Spencer, this third book in Judith St. George’s Turning Point series reveals the turning point for the young man who would become one of America’s most honored presidents.

Anne Frank in Her Own Words by Caroline Hennon (Published September, 2014)

Goodreads SynopsisAnne Frank's youthful optimism was a stark contrast to the terrible monstrosities of World War II. While Anne and her family hid from the world in a secret annex, she confided in her diary, nicknamed Kitty, providing the world with an inside view of what it was like to grow up fearing the wrath of Nazi Germany. This biography uses Anne's moving writings to highlight the events of her short life. Her diary is a powerful tool and reminder of the unjust hate that caused the Holocaust. Sidebars and fact boxes offer more information about this time period.

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner (Published March, 2015)

Synopsis: In this exuberant and lyrical follow-up to the award-winning Over and Under the Snow, discover the wonders that lie hidden between stalks, under the shade of leaves . . . and down in the dirt. Explore the hidden world and many lives of a garden through the course of a year! Up in the garden, the world is full of green—leaves and sprouts, growing vegetables, ripening fruit. But down in the dirt exists a busy world—earthworms dig, snakes hunt, skunks burrow—populated by all the animals that make a garden their home.

How was your week? Has spring arrived in your town? My kids are aching to spend whole days outside.


Anonymous said...

Will keep praying for you and especially your little one. Sounds to me like you are doing a sterling job of all the mothering and homeschooling.

Lisa said...

I agree about Saxon Math. Ian is taking Calculus this year and has found out that he can learn the lessons much easier by watching the Khan Academy videos, because Saxon leaves out much-needed info when introducing a new concept. Thankfully, he'll finish the book in 4 weeks. My youngers are in Saxon, too, though, so our Saxon days will go on. And we will continue to supplement.
About the caffeine and headaches..I usually get a headache at least 2x per week. And the only thing that helps is a strong cup of coffee and a heavy dose of Ibuprofen.
Praying for Beth as she continues her infusions. My rheumy suggested those for me, right before she moved to NC. I still haven't found a new dr yet. Seems as if there is no time to do the research.
Have a great day, friend.
Much love to you and yours.
And happy belated birhtday. :)

Christine said...

Lisa, good to hear from you. I am sorry you get the headaches too. I have heard good things about Khan Academy and hopefully I will have time this weekend to check that out. Thank you for taking the time to share today!

Christine said...

Thank you for your support, Sandy! I sure appreciate you.

J Mama Bee said...

I'm stopping by from Weekly Wrap up. You sound like a wonderful mom.

Christine said...

Thank you, Mama Bee, for stopping by and commenting. Heading over to your place now!