Thursday, January 22, 2009

This Week At The School of Bantau

Watch out or I'll gnaw you to death with my tooth

Monday we talked about Martin Luther King, Jr. I explained a little about segregation and how eloquent a speaker MLK was. I explained that he pushed many changes in laws to relieve the burden of segregation. Aria asked if she would have been made to sit in the back of the buses. I said she would have passed for a white person. She could have lived in white society, but I don't know what she would have had to deal with if her community knew she was 1/4 black.

Tuesday we did some math worksheets practicing more place value with Aria and comparing 3 digit numbers with Casey. Aria is really grasping the place value associations now. I am so glad to see the light coming on for her. I hope someday soon she will see how much fun it can be to figure out math problems. Math is great for those of us concerned with the 'right' answers. In math, there is always a right answer. There is no room for subjective meandering in math.

Casey had a tougher time with three digit comparisons. We're working with greater than and less than. The worksheet site I am using jumped from using one digit numbers to three and this is not very conducive to happy learning. So, I think we will have to practice seeing the patterns in higher numbers before doing any more of those comparison worksheets.

We went to the library. Casey and Connor played on the computers while Aria found tons of books that looked interesting to her. Which made me glad for her. Connor found some books about bowling which he thumbs through periodically. He points at the pictures and tells me he wants to go there. :) Aria found some movies and music for us to enjoy, too.

I lost the rest of my marbles a long time ago

Wednesday I read Junie B. Jones to the children till they squirmed. Then they completed their math worksheets (more place value and comparing numbers). Casey practice the "ap" family of words. Aria read Captain Underpants for 5 minutes by herself, and we learned the Word of the Day, punctuate.

Today, I read Captain Underpants to Casey and Aria read Junie B to herself for about ten minutes. We watched Bindi the Jungle Girl on Discovery Kids. Aria and I enjoyed the show very much. I was surprised to learn that platypuses are venomous. Casey was mildly interested and managed to glance at the show a once or twice. :)

We played a math game called "Race to 100". This practices place value. Aria won to Casey's very observable and whiny dismay. Our word of the day was, Marsh. Casey practice letter formation by tracing a few upper and lower case A's and B's.

I made a cookie for you but I eated it.

I ordered Shiller Math online yesterday. I am very excited. I hope that it works as well as I think it will. Now if I can just find fun and tactile ways to learn everything else.

Baking is very serious work.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Online Day

We played games online today. To cover the skills Ara is working on in English we played Toon University online. She played Parts of Speech while I looked on. Casey played a word family sorting game on

Aria continued to practice place value with another game. Casey played one comparing numbers.

I've set Bindi Irwin's show to record so we can watch it when ever we have the time. I missed it with the kids yesterday when it came on at 4pm instead of 5pm like I thought.

Tomorrow, we're off with the homeschool group to roller skate. Yay!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Aria's Lessons

We completed our math worksheets today. Casey is finding that the worksheets are pretty easy. We can speed through them. Especially, since I don't make him to the inane repetition when he most obviously understands a concept. The things that are more difficult for him are only done a few times so that he doesn't get frustrated or tired.

Aria is thriving on the worksheets. This is something so familiar to her that I think it's a little comforting. I'm a little concerned that the information is getting lost in among the 'right' answers. She understands how to get the answers from the example on the sheet, but not because she understands the information.

She can see, for instance, in the number 312 that there are 3 hundreds, 1 ten, and 2 ones. She knows this not because she understands hundreds, tens, and ones, but because she remembers that the hundreds are first the tens are second and the ones are last. She has not totally grasped that there are 300 + 10 + 2. Or that 10 ones are 1 ten or ten tens are 100. This would not normally be a concern for a child that is seeing this for the first time, but Aria has seen this numerous times. The interacts should be clear, but maybe she is not ready for this yet.

Then the problem becomes how to present the information differently just for the sake of not being bored. Being presented with the same information over and over again, whether you understand it or not, can be very frustrating. But I'm not despairing yet. She did seem to really enjoy using the manipulatives and I am planning on using them more often. Hopefully, at some point, seeing the way you can trade one group for another that light bulb go on. I think the ability to grasp it is there.

She, also, practiced naming parts of speech. She didn't do well on that for some reason. I don't know if she just wasn't concentrating or if she forgot what she learned. I will find some way to practice them again tomorrow to see what's going on.

Aria and I, also, tried our hand at making an educational video. She had fun with it at first but quickly grew tired. I will edit it and show it to her and maybe it will inspire her to do more. I think explaining it 'to other kids' will help her to understand it better and inspire her to learn more. It caters to her vanity too. :)

We plan on watch Bindi The Jungle Girl tonight as well. A decent day. A little frustrating but productive enough.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mondays and Tuesdays

I feel like my days have been really full this week. Yesterday, we played War and computer games to practice our math. We did worksheets today. I'm glad of the help that is giving me by way of child appropriate worksheets provided in an orderly fashion. I think it may help us. I'm really considering purchasing Shiller Math. We have some math manipulatives and Aria really seemed to enjoy using them to figure out her math sheet today. I know Shiller uses manipulatives and music, along with worksheets and such. I can use it with all three children so it is most probably worth the money.

Aria read an article from Mindsprinting and answered questions. She got most right, but I think the articles are just not interesting enough to keep her attention. I need to find something about acting, fashion or music. Then I'll have her undivided attention. I want to be sure she has the tools to remember things she doesn't like to read, though, so we will have to continue to discuss that skill.

The word of the day yesterday was "blare" and today it was "motto". Aria said her motto could be "Keep Trying". I need to make her a sign or framed picture that states her motto. I love that she thought of that on her own. I think that should be my motto as well.

My goal for the rest of the week is to do something creative and/or a science experiment this week.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Smart People

Aria worked particularly hard today to get her work done. Not only that but she was interested in what she was doing. She spent much of the morning looking at The Human Body book. We talked extensively about reproduction and well as the real life emotional issues of having a baby. (Can't do that in school.)

She worked on her place value review and on decimals. She learned how tenths, hundredths, and thousandths worked. By the end she was able to compare greater than, less than or equal to in decimals with moderate comprehension. I was very proud.

She then worked on her reading comprehension worksheet. These worksheets are pretty dumb and kinda boring. I don't know if I will continue with them. I think I may just find articles online and write my own questions up about them. Then I can pick things that are interesting to her and/or are necessary to know. I don't really know how knowing about the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia is going to help her in the long run.

Casey worked on his reading and math sheets. Last night we played a rousing game of 4-Way Countdown. His reading is getting quicker and quicker. On of these days he's gonna take off and never look back. He was full of confidence today. I said, "You really are a very good reader. I don't know what you were worried about." He said, "Me, either."

Even Connor worked about two minutes on a worksheet with me. Then the moment was over and he proceeded to scribble on the sheet.

We then watched a short video about Molly Pitcher here.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


We've done worksheets the last couple of days. Aria seems to enjoy them. She seems to like that she can see what she has to get done. She wants to have the end in sight I guess. I think she tells herself "Only two more pages to go and then I can do what I really want." Even, when we're doing something fun it seems that she'd rather be doing what she wants to do. And I guess we are all that way.

Aria did fine on her math sheets. She made some errors on her place value work because she lost sight of what we were studying I think. This is definitely good practice for her. I think the ability to grasp the symbols and some abstracts in math may be a little more developed now. I am hoping that it will go quickly for her.

The reading sheets went fine. Her ability to read is well developed but the some of the comprehension is lacking. I am going to have her start taking notes on things she's read. I find that I retain information better if I've written it down at least once. This will also practice her handwriting skills.

Casey, on the other hand, does NOT like worksheets. We did some reading work which went well in the beginning but as soon as we had done more writing then he felt was necessary he got very rebellious. Writing is difficult for him and reading is an effort, so it's only natural that he balk at it a bit. I don't know how I'm gonna get handwriting practice in without lots of tears. Small doses are probably the way to go. The math sheets he did well on and seemed to enjoy. I'll just have to mix up the worksheets and games and such so that none of it gets stale.

We found a couple of websites that are interesting and educational. We found We found this site on National Geographic Kids website. It is a site where kids have their own page and start groups much like myspace but it is all animal, nature, and kid related stuff. We, also, found Raven Symone Presents. She does all kinds of craft type projects and fun stuff, mostly, for girls.

So, we're getting back to a schedule. As much of a schedule as we are capable. I think people lose out on a lot of prime learning/teaching time when they compartmentalize everything. We are constantly in motion, constantly evaluating what we need to learn that day or even that moment.

On another subject, the kids found ice on everything a few days ago. The leaves on the bushes got iced over and they were able to pull off sheets of ice shaped like leaves. Nature can do such beautiful things.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Vacation is over

It feels good to be doing something with our days. Christmas break has consisted of kids making messes and mom cleaning them up. We did have a great time, but a little more structure and a few more things to do with our brains is definitely a good thing.

Yesterday, we started growing a green crystal. I don't know if it will work since it says not to bump it but my eleven-year-old carried it from one room to another and spilled a bit of it. Said eleven year old claims to have not heard the instruction regarding bumping it. Even if said eleven-year-old had heard instruction she probably would have stated that she didn't bump it, but simply carried it from one room to another.

It was exciting to mix the chemicals and I had to smash the 'seed' rock. The rock is a rough surface for the crystal to grow on. Well, when I hit the rock with the hammer it sent a spark flying across the kitchen floor. The kids where ecstatic, especially when it happened a few more times. I found myself wondering if I could start a fire the old-fashioned way, but I didn't try.

Today, we read Jack and the Bean Stalk in honor of Bean Day. I found a website that gives a holiday for just about everyday of the year. Today is Cuddle Up Day and Bean Day. Cuddling is great as long as you don't celebrate Bean Day by way of eating a lot of beans. Which we didn't so we're safe.

Casey took the math placement test from the Mind Sprinting website. He did just as a thought he would do and now the website is making practice worksheets available for him to work on. Everything so far has been free.

He then played with our new Cool School toy. This toy has captured my three-years-old's attention and it a pretty cool toy. The only thing I don't like about it so far is that it shows SpongeBob, Clifford, Dora 'classrooms', as well as a few others, even though they are not available unless you purchase them separately. I would prefer that those options be hidden from my poor kids who would like to play those games.

Aria took a spelling quiz online that asks which is the correct spelling. She got 8 out of 10 and then she went back and corrected the ones that were wrong. I feel that is good practice and she does that on her own. She likes things to be correct but only when she wants to do it. :)

Aria had been reading the Human Body book we got from the National Geographics sale. I like to see her carrying that big book around. She is teaching herself to be a very intelligent and well rounded person I think.

I printed Aria's math sheets from Mind Sprinting and we went through them together. They are just want she needs and I feel like her ability to understand is a little better now that she's older. I am looking at math curriculums but I may just stick with this for now and see how it goes.