Thursday, September 29, 2011

Alphabetical Order

Today we worked with 16 words that start with P.

I dictated the words and made sure that
at least half of them were "new words".
(we first folded the paper so as to mark 16 squares)

After writing the wor
ds, he cut out the squares and starting organizing.
He had to go as far as the fourth letter with some words.
He put them in groups
by second letter,
arranged each group individually
and then put all the groups together.

Besides learning how to order words alphabetically, he learned new words and practiced handwriting, cutting, problem-solving, organizing, and task completion.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Studying past Midnight and Bluecorn Cake

I was just remembering how I have often thought that, if I could go back to school, I would like to study History, or Our Story, as I prefer to call it.

Hadn't thought about it for a while until just now that I am putting together a course on World Story for homeschool, when it suddenly dawns on me.
I'm studying!
Even stayed up until 2:30am a few times (complete wreck the next day).
My husband thinks its funny - he's never really seen me study.
He's been fully supportive (all-around awesome dude).
I'm putting together a timeline with Photoshop. It's looking good. Feeling proud of my homework.

I've been so busy during the last decade and a half that I haven't studied anything. N
ot to say I haven't been learning - I have. But it's been all about learning how to deal with all the stuff adult life throws at you, all at the same time - stuff you have to learn quickly to: maintain your business, maintain your house, be in a committed relationship, change diapers, make money, keep up with technology, expand... Sure there are all those things, but it's different to really set out to learn something specific, something special.

So, to my son:
Thank you for the inspiration and motivation to study again.
Your curiosity and fascination for the world around you have sparked mine.

And... Cake!

He's been asking to bake a cake by himself, make up the recipe and everything.
He specifically said that he wanted to "improvise". Here are the results:

Blue cornflour apple-banana cake!

And... big-ass pots of food!

As suggested by many pro homeschool moms -
I have started cooking butt loads of food on Sundays, and freezing, for the week's meals.

As much as I love fresh cooked meals, there's just no time for it every day.

I now have in the freezer and ready to go:
1 meal spaghetti sauce, 3 meals lentils, 2 meals lasagna,
a tub-full of steamed cauliflower and broccoli,
and 2 meals seafood stew.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


I've been downloading free textbooks for 6th-12th like crazy the last few days since I found this awesome site:

My library is now stocked with Calculus, Biology, Geometry, Algebra, Physics, Chemistry and a bunch more.
Most of the textbooks come with a Teacher's edition as well.
I'm so psyched.

And I got it all for FREE!!!

We are so fortunate to have good people, like these folks, who put together quality educational resources and make them accessible to all.
That's how the sharing of knowledge should be!

Between CK12 and Khan Academy (my hero), I think we've got it down.

Information is Power!
Save - Organize - Archive - Share
and help other seekers by spreading the wealth

*A Tip to the On-line textbook user: if you are using a free online textbook that has the option of downloading - Just Do It! Last week I lost access to the science books I thought we would be using for the next three years. We loved it, and suddenly it was GONE. The site stopped providing free access. So, if you can, just go ahead and download it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Math, Left-overs and Table Manners

I love Wednesdays. The art center I run from home doesn't hold classes today, which means we don't get interrupted. We read aloud from Horton Hears a Who in Spanish. Then he did math and spelling practice while I wrote. Our favorite part of the day is our long, relaxed reading-writing-drawing session. It's a great day.

Subtraction with Regrouping Across Two Zeros
Uuugh says me! Thank goodness for the math wiz of the house.
checking/correcting math and working out percentage of correct answers.
He was very happy with his 86%!

In times of empty pockets, left-overs for Snack!
3 shrimps from last night, mashed potatoes from Saturday,
one meatball and some lentils from Sunday.
And yes, this is just mid-morning snack.
Mr. Meatball Head doesn't have the best table manners.
His parents don't really give a monkey's about etiquette.

But we practiced proper fork-holding and
elbow position, in case he ever need to impress.

Hope you're having a good day too!

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Point System - Prizes vs. Punishment

Last week was rough. The first three days of the week felt like they were spent arguing over how many pages he had to do in his workbook, how he was sitting on his chair, how he wouldn't stop fidgeting...

On Wednesday afternoon we had a meltdown that ended in me saying something along the lines of: "You have two options - you can learn by yourself or you can learn with me in a happy and enjoyable way, but I will not spend my life days* fighting with you." I then got up and started for the door.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Some Thoughts on Unschooling

I was reading someone's post today at, about a Study that had been done by giving standardized tests to homeschooled and public schooled children. Structured homeschoolers came in first, public schoolers second, and unschoolers came in way last. I wrote this as a comment, but then decided to post it here. I've written about this before, in tids and tads, but here is my conclusion today about unschooling:

Monday, September 12, 2011

Geography Ball

I found a little sponge world globe ball
for geography class.
Very fun.

As a warm-up, we start out
throwing the ball back and forth,
and calling out the name
of the first country we see.

Then comes the more challenging part.
I throw him the ball
and call out the name of a country.

He catches it and finds the country as fast as he can, and then throws it back.

Grant-writing Skills

October is International Children and Youth Month, and I've been feeling like we're ready to throw in some unschooling. I don't think we could use it as a year-round style, but it would be nice to give it a try. So, I've told my son that we will celebrate the special month with independent projects.

After a decade of working in social development, I consider grant-writing an important skill to have, especially for creative people. So, today we worked on proposals. The first steps were to make a list of several projects that he'd like to do, we talked about the different ideas and evaluated the logistics - resources, space, time, parent availability... I told him that he could either do one big project, or several smaller ones. He narrowed it down to three projects: making a book about the Saber Tooth Tiger, writing and composing a song on his guitar, making an elaborate painting and framing it. Next, we worked on making a schedule and distributing time among the three projects. This was a good exercise in time administration. I filled in certain times on the schedule because I do want to keep two hours a day for straight-up grammar and math, and a few other specialty classes that he only has once a week - like third language and soccer. The rest of the time was up to him to play with. He got a bit flustered with so much information on the weekly table, so we worked through it together. We'll spend the rest of September working on mission statements, objectives, and methodology for each project.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Music Class - an original composition by my almost 9yr. old rock star

Greek Mythology

When my son was born, my grandmother gave me a very special book - Myths and Enchantment Tales, 1949 edition. It was my father's when he was a boy, and my favorite book on Granny's bookshelf when I was a child. It meant the world to me that she remembered how much I loved it.

We recently gave Greek Mythology a whole hour of its own on our schedule. We read one story a week from the beloved book, which is getting so old that I had to put it in the "untouchables" box of our homeschool library, for fear of it completely disintegrating from too much handling. After reading, he sight-copies one of the illustrations and writes a short summary.

The illustrations are dreamy. The English is ancient and full of new, old words to learn. He is fascinated by the stories, which seem even more magical when read from the worn, yellowed pages.

The preface (though severely politically incorrect) does a fantastic job of explaining how these stories might have been born by observing nature, and gave for a wonderful discussion on how we have always been looking for the answers to who we are, where we come from and how we got here.

Free Interactive Learning Games

After recently posting that I would start limiting my online resource search to one hour a week, I started a new blog for resources in Spanish - edulibrelinks - forcing me to break my vow and spend most of my weekend completely immersed in the www of educational resources. The more I look, the better I get at finding the good stuff. My requirements for bookmarking sites are: no flashing advertisements (I will tolerate discrete ads for other ed. sites); no violence; no commercial hosts or characters (disney, barney, barbie etc.); that I test and enjoy them myself; and, of course, that my son like them.

Here is one of my favorite finds from this week:

Check out Math Angle for really cool interactive games in math, language arts and geography.

Monday, September 5, 2011

20, 20, 20 - a perfect way to start the day

We begin our mornings with:

20 minutes of ReadAloud - usually from Dr. Seuss
20 minutes of Spelling/Dictation with BlendPhonics
20 minutes of Grammar - one SuperTeacher worksheet

It works really well and makes a great start to our day!
What's your first morning activity?

edulibrelinks - mi colección de recursos en español

edulibrelinks es mi colección de recursos educativos en español, gratuitos y de buena calidad. Quiero mantenerlo como un espacio seguro para la navegación de mi hijo y de los tuyos. Por eso tengo el espacio de comentarios aquí. Tú puedes ayudarme a mantenerlo limpio. Por favor avísame si encontraste algo inapropiado o con anuncios comerciales. ¡Gracias por comentar!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Commitment - trying to stick to a schedule

I am a schedule junkie, always have been.

By age seven I had myself on a min-by-min.
My son also likes having a plan and being
mentally prepared for the day.
Problem is, our schedule is
Every time we have a not-so-great day, I spend an hour drawing up a new one.
A tweak here, a tweak there. Different colors for each subject, on pretty paper,
to hang on the wall for a week
at most.
But, I think
we might be on to something that could work for a while.
So I am posting our new schedule to
commit to it for at least three months.

August 22 - December 16, 2011
3rd. Grade Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
8:00-8:15 Read Aloud Phonics Spelling Grammar Read Aloud Phonics Spelling Grammar Room Tidy Read Aloud Phonics Spelling Grammar Read Aloud Phonics Spelling Grammar
8:30-8:45 Movement
9:00-9:15 Math Workbook Math Practice Math Workbook Math Practice Math Practice
10:00-10:30 Snack and Break
10:30-10:45 Soccer Writing Spanish Greek Mythology Third Language Mayan Kakchikel Writing Spanish


12:00-12:15 Grammar Scott Foresman Interactive Vocabulary Games Grammar Scott Foresman Spanish Spell Check Grammar Scott Foresman

1:00-2:30 Lunch and Break
Art Program

Art Program
3:00-3:15 Science Science Dance



5:15-5:30 Reading Magic Treehouse Chapter Books Reading Magic Treehouse Chapter Books Reading Magic Treehouse Chapter Books Reading Magic Treehouse Chapter Books Reading Magic Treehouse Chapter Books

Friday, September 2, 2011

¡¡¡Libros Gratis de Matemática en Español para Primaria!!!

Escoge el nivel de tu hija/o
¡descárgalo gratis, e imprímelo!
Aquí les va -

Gracias a Elena por compartirlo. Si te interesa unirte al grupo donde Elena y yo compartimos material educativo con otras familias hispanohablantes en Secular HS: házte miembro de (es gratis), e ingresa a la comunidad "Escuela en Casa". Allí te esperamos para compartir recursos e ideas.

También te recomiendo:

Maggie's Earth
- sitio interactivo de gramática, matemática y más, cada juego tiene la opción de inglés o español.

Fun Math

We do math every day and I've been looking for free interactive online math games that aren't too stressful or too obnoxious. Here are two that we tried today and that my son really enjoyed. We use them as supplements for our daily math lessons and only if written work is finished.

fun math games