Friday, August 28, 2015

Homeschool With HOD Update #2

{Beyond Little Hearts Unit 20, Little Hearts Unit 3, Little Hands Unit 2}

We’ve managed to fit in 12 days for the month of August, which is exactly what I’d hoped to accomplish!  Hooray! These 12 days leave us with a little wiggle room throughout the school year for vacation days, sick days, and ‘I just can’t do it today’ days.

We’ll start with the fun…a local homeschool mom is offering leveled art classes for K – 12th graders at one of our area libraries.  My boys are enrolled in the K – 2nd grade class, and they had their first lesson last week.  What a NEAT class!  They came out with smiles on their faces and fun projects in their hands.

For this first lesson, they learned about the color wheel and mixing primary colors to create secondary colors.  They made these cute little mice.  (The teacher said she gets many of her ideas from Pinterest.  I was able to find the lesson here.)


Jensyn and I spent the time reading books and hanging out with other homeschool friends who were waiting on their children.  But so I don’t leave her out, here’s one of her recent drawings of a group of princesses:


And a little more fun – this little guy turned SIX this week! 
Happy birthday, Max!


Moving on to actual school work…

(Jensyn, age 4)

We read the story of Noah’s Ark this week, so for her counting page, Jensyn (with Mommy’s help) drew raindrops.  I wrote the numbers lightly in pencil as she counted, and then she traced them.  She’s doing really well with counting and numbers, so we may start to do two per box and practice counting by 2s in a few weeks.

(Please judge her hair by this picture, not the remaining uncombed-hair pictures in this post, ha ha!!)


Unit 2’s letter is made out of dried beans.  She LOVES gluing and decorating her letter!

Coloring uppercase and lowercase Bs.  She insists on using pink and purple, rather than the colors suggested in the directions.  I love my girly-girl!


She’s attempting to make Bs in the salt box.  The curved lines gave her some trouble, so I’m glad our handwriting practice is very large and tactile at this point!


For Unit 2, we practice the number 2.  (Makes sense, right?!)  We traced her TWO hands and traced the number two.  I’m teaching her the Rod & Staff preschool rhymes to remember number formation, so we talked about “Around and back on the railroad track”.


We read about the Tower of Babel, and then we made our own block towers.  We started with just a random tower, and then we moved on to a two-color pattern.  She thought that was easy-peasy, so we tried a three-color pattern.  She had no trouble with that, either!  She LOVED LOVED LOVED tower building!  None of these pictures are posed – she had the BIGGEST grins as we worked on our towers together!


Coloring all the Bs and bs later in the week…

Making a playdough B and a butterfly
(Playdough mat is from 123HomeschoolForMe.)

(Max, age 6)

I am blessed that Max is the type who wants to get his work done!  He understands that the more quickly he completes his work, the sooner he gets to go play.  He does his work, he does it thoroughly, and then he’s off to do his own thing. 

Each day, he starts by getting quick instructions from me and then completing his handwriting, fine motor skills, and math.  I’m there if he needs help, but he’s really quite independent with these tasks!  (Yes, we are doing handwriting AND fine motor skills every day, even though the Little Hearts guide has you alternating days.  He LOVES his fine motor skills workbooks and wants to do them every day, *I* want him to have daily handwriting practice, and he’s an older kindergartener, so he is handling it just fine!)

DSCN4511 DSCN4495

This week, we had a “Smelling Test”.  The kids though that was hilarious when compared with Alex’s spelling tests!  I sent Max out of the room, randomly picked some ‘smelly’ kitchen items, and soaked a cotton ball with each item.  We used lemon juice, vanilla extract, peppermint extract, and maple flavoring.

I lined up the bottles (NOT in the same order as the cotton balls), read the labels to Max, and had him smell each bottle.  Then I asked him to smell each cotton ball, matching it with the correct bottle.  He had great fun, and he matched up the items perfectly!


The rest of the family got in on the fun, too.  Alex did it blindfolded.  Daddy, who was working from home, did it with his eyes closed.  Max tested me with my eyes closed, as well.  I love how homeschooling allows us to have fun TOGETHER with science lessons!


Max is LOVING Reddy Fox!  I know that some families complain that the Burgess books are outdated or boring, but this is our second time through Little Hearts and our second time truly enjoying these books!  The daily readings are brief, and they keep my children wanting to hear more the next day! 

In this picture, Max is completing his Reddy Fox ‘writing assignment’.  It’s just filling words in to two blanks in a sentence.  (Jensyn is torturing her big brothers by hammering on an upside-down plastic bowl, and Alex is attempting to do his copywork.  Real life.  It’s interesting!)


A few more pictures of handwriting and fine motor skills work…


(Alex, age 7)

Alex is soooo jealous that the littler ones get to have more fun than he does.  I keep reminding him that he once did those fun things, and when the younger kiddos are 7, they will be doing the same work as Alex is.  Getting big is no fun, is it, Alex?

I debated telling this, as I don’t think it’s right to embarrass my child in a blog post.  But the truth is, sharing this will share WHY we love Heart of Dakota so very much and HOW God is using HOD to touch our children’s hearts! 

I lost it on the first day of this unit.  LOST IT.  Alex was, yet again, stubbornly sitting at the table refusing to do his work.  He says that grown ups love work, and kids love play, and he shouldn’t have to do hard work since he’s not a grown-up.  We’ve had more than a few battles in our first few weeks of school, and he’s spent ALL DAY sitting at the table a few times until he gives in and does his work.  He’s lost video games, snacks, and other fun activities because he doesn’t want to work. 

I’d HAD ENOUGH that morning.  In the 20 minutes that I worked with Jensyn, he had broken several pencils, hung upside-down from his chair, and messed with everything he could reach.  He hadn’t written one work on his paper yet. Finally, I yelled.  I *YELLED*.  I reminded him yet again that nobody flips a switch when you turn 18, making you suddenly love to work.  I told him that he had to DEVELOP the WILLPOWER to do the work and do it well, whether he liked it or not.  I am ashamed to say that I yelled until my little boy was in TEARS.  I apologized, we snuggled for a long time, and then we tried to get down to business.

I opened his Beyond guide to start the new week of lessons, and we looked at his Bible verse and poem for the week.  Talk about a verse that hits home!!! 

Proverbs 12:24 – “Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor.”

Then, we read our poem for the week – “Against Idleness and Mischief” (click on the poem title to read it).  Wow. God knew when I’d hit my breaking point.  God knew what my son needed to hear on that day.  And guess what?  Alex had a MUCH better week than he has had so far this year.  Though not perfect (which I don’t expect), he has worked much more diligently!

For the record, Alex DOES still get to have a little fun along with his school.  (He’s just not building block towers or using playdough on an everyday basis.)  In this picture, he was doing an activity to help him review his memory verse.


And in this picture, we were learning about dusk by using a flashlight as the sun and a ball as the earth.  It’s a lousy picture, I know…but I wanted proof that he has FUN with his schoolwork at least a few times each week! Winking smile


The sad truth, though, is that second graders spend more time doing things like this:

math workbook (LOVE the face, ha ha!)


poetry copywork – helps with handwriting, punctuation, grammar, and memorizing the poem

spelling word practice

This week, Alex finished his Singapore 1B math book.  Hallelujah, as it’s been the cause of a lot of frustration for Alex.  I really love Singapore, but I think it’s not the approach that Alex needs.  We have Singapore 2A if we choose to use it, but Alex would like to try Teaching Textbooks 3 for a while to see how that goes.  (Since Singapore is a bit more advanced than other math programs, and TT is considered a little behind other programs, it’s a good place to jump in.)  So next week, Alex will begin doing math on the computer with TT.

He is up to lesson 11 in Growing With Grammar 2.  I am liking this a lot, and Alex is, too.  We use markers to highlight important words in the teaching paragraph at the top of the page, and then he has to do the writing to complete the page.  I think the more writing/less oral approach is helping things to stick in his head.  Right now, he’s working on subjects, predicates, and parts of a sentence.

Alex really is a very bright boy! I try not to push him too hard, as I know he is struggling to learn diligence now, and he may shut down again if he finds the workload too tough.  I try to compliment and encourage him whenever possible.  I hope we’re finding the right mix of hard work and fun!  It’s so difficult to know, but I feel like he is doing well and learning a lot!  We will continue to pray for diligence and a good attitude, for patience and wisdom for me, and that this will be a GREAT year!

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Max’s 6th Birthday

Max has been counting down the days until his birthday for MONTHS!  I’ve never seen a child so excited for his birthday to arrive.  Turning 6 was a big deal for him!

He chose to have a Jurassic World theme for his birthday party.  He’s never seen the movie, nor will he for a long time, but he loves dinosaurs!  (I find this hilarious and ironic, as Max was beyond terrified when we went through the dinosaur exhibit at Indianapolis Children’s Museum two years ago.  Keith had to take him out of the room because he was so upset!)

As usual, Grandma P made his birthday cake.  Jessica is off to college (!) this year, so Grandma had to go it alone.  She still made a wonderful cake, and Max loved it!  The smaller dinosaurs on the cake are from Grandma S.  When our kids stayed there for a few days earlier this month, Max found the dinosaurs and decided they would make great cake decorations.

So far, our children have had a special friend party when they turn 5.  All the rest of our birthday parties are family-only events.  We were missing a few special people this year, due to heading off to college, work schedules, and sickness, but we still had a nice group to celebrate Max!  That’s what our outgoing little guy wanted – a whole lot of people to come to his party!

Max knew in advance that he would be receiving Skylanders Trap Team game from us, as he was with me when I bought it.  It was on clearance, and I had a $10 coupon, so I couldn’t pass up the deal.

He also received a Jurassic World Lego set, a Super Soaker gun, several characters and traps for his Trap Team game, a kindergarten workbook, two Funny Gears sets, a Toy R Us gift card, cash, and several dinosaur puzzles.  (Plus, Kevin & Annie gave him his presents a few weeks ago – a ginormous inflatable frisbee and a checkers game.)

It’s a little crazy with all the kiddos around!

Lance and Jensyn having a cute moment…

checking out the presents

Woohoo!  Max was excited about this one!

Jurassic Park birthday banner, a bunch of spiral decorations
left over from previous parties, and his fun dinosaur cake…

lighting the candles and singing ‘Happy Birthday’

after the candles were blown out…

fun on the trampoline, playing with leftover boxes and bags

The party was on the 23rd, the day before Max’s birthday.  We wanted his actual birthday to be special, too, so we saved the Trap Team game for Max to unwrap on his special day. 

On his birthday, Max picked to stay in his jammies all day.  I told him we’d take the day off of school in honor of his birthday. He also chose homemade pancakes for breakfast and Kraft mac ‘n cheese for lunch.   I told him I would make whatever he wanted for dinner, and he told me, “I want pizza.  With sausage and pepperoni.  And red peppers and green peppers.  And I don’t want you to make it.  I want it to come from a restaurant.”

I emailed Keith at work, and he told me to go ahead and order the pizza since it was Max’s birthday request.  So we had our pizza dinner, gave Max his present, and spent the evening playing Trap Team.  We ended the day with leftover cake.  It was an all-around nice day!

Max, I’m not quite sure where the past 6 years have gone.  In my mind, you’re this little guy…


…or maybe even THIS little guy….


Somehow you’ve grown way-too-quickly into an amazing, fun-loving, energetic, dramatic, and mischievous six year old with a great big heart.  We miss the baby you once were, but we love the boy you are growing to be.  We pray that you’ll continue to face the world with a smile on your face, excitement in your eyes, and love for Jesus in your heart.  We love you, Maxwell Corbin!  Happy SIXTH birthday!