Thursday, February 19, 2009

More Deer!

Last night I woke up soooo many times. I was hot because the King had put the kerosene heater in the basement and it was just too warm for me. I have a horrible time sleeping in the heat. In the summer, my bedroom is like an icebox with my window ac unit cranked up high. The King tends to sleep in other rooms during the summer. ;D

One of the times I woke up, our dog was outside barking like crazy. Now, she is known to have nights where she barks a lot. But last night the barking was different. I thought maybe we actually had a prowler in the neighborhood. After all, it was 2:30 in the morning, right?

I checked all windows looking for what she was barking at. Due to the recent rains, it was extremely foggy outside but I could see because of the street lights. It was the last window when I actually saw them. On the other side of our neighbor's house is an empty lot. It's only a little 1/2 acre plot but it's overgrown with pines and brush. There are houses all around it. We also live on a state road that is used A LOT! The traffic is usually going along at a fast clip well over the 45 mile an hour speed limit.

That's why it was amazing to see not only 3 deer in the lot, but then all of a sudden about 6 more deer bounded across the highway into the lot. I've never seen that many deer together before! I couldn't see where they went after that. One can only assume they prance through everybody's back yard on a regular basis. Good Grief!

The really scary part is that within 20 seconds of them bounding across the road, a car came flying around the curve. I would've hated for that timing to have been different. Deers do major damage to vehicles and their drivers. We have some little things stuck on our front bumpers that is supposed to help keep the deer from coming in the road. As long as you're driving at least 45 miles an hour, evidently the wind passes through these little devices and the sound is something only the deer hear and they stay away. I assume they're working, but I have no proof. I haven't hit a deer yet. I did have one jump over the roof of my car one time before the devices were put on. Eeek!

Anyone know if there is some type of deer activity going on right now? I'm not familiar with the deer's schedule of events for the seasons. LOL

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Math Ladder

Pooh has been having a rough time learning the addition math facts. We've actually finished his Alpha work from Math U See and he still doesn't know all of them. He'll know some of them for a while and then it disappears. He was always able to get through the material for the simple reason that he loved using the manipulatives. He's very adept at using them and after a little trouble in the beginning became very good at 'solving for the unknown'.

However, I think that he became a bit lazy with using them. He uses the manipulatives without really thinking too much about it. As soon as he comes to a problem he doesn't know, he just uses the blocks. There are a few he would get without them but most of the time he took the easy way. That, of course, is my fault. If I had made him stop and we had discussed each time why 4+5=9 (doubles plus one), then I think he may have been learning to do more in his head. He's keeping the math external instead of trying to internalize it and that's where we'll be getting into trouble if we don't get it corrected.

Anyway, I've borrowed the book Games for Math by Peggy Kaye from the library. The other day I found a simple game we could try together. I liked this plan because it will help him learn the addition facts in a fun way and yet doesn't require massive index card preparation. (Preparation for stuff like that almost always make it impossible for me to follow through. I admit it. So there! ;D)

The game is Math Ladder. Basically, you take one sheet of paper. Draw a ladder on it giving enough rungs so that you can write 0-10 one on each rung in random order. The game is played using one die. If I roll a 3, I then take the die, keeping the 3 up, and put it beside each rung starting from the bottom. I must then solve the addition problem of bottom rung number + 3 = (blank). If I solve the bottom rung, I move up one level. I keep going until I get a wrong answer or reach the top.

Pooh and I have played it for two days now. We play after doing some flashcards. Due to that, I make sure that we only go through two or three cycles of tossing the die. I also make sure that I get things wrong. Who wants to play with someone who's always right and wins?

This is a great referencing activity because both ways can be used for referencing. When it's my turn, I'll say 4+3=7 and wait for Pooh to nod his head yes or no. Sometimes he'll say he doesn't know the answer, sometimes he says "let me think" and a couple of times he's said the answer before me. ;D The same type of referencing can be done when it's Pooh's turn.

If I find any other simple, easy prep games in the book (or anywhere else) that work for us, I'll post them.

Can You Hear Them?

Perhaps it's the sunnier weather. Perhaps it's the sense that spring is closer. Whatever the case, I've been noticing the bird calls lately. I'm hearing different calls, louder calls and just more of them. Walking on my driveway last week, there was a bird in the neighbor's weeping willow that was just singing away. When I finally found it, I realized it was a Chickadee and the call it was making wasn't it's usual chicka-dee-dee-dee.

I'm using that as an example because, really, I'm terrible about being able to identify bird calls. Actually, I'm terrible with anything having to do with auditory skills. Figuring out words to songs can sometimes totally baffle me. Anyway, my point is that the calls I'm hearing now are not what I'm used to hearing. That much I can tell. Maybe the birds have different calls depending on the season? I'm pretty sure they have different calls based on attracting a mate and defending a territory. So maybe what I'm hearing is 'scouting' behavior. You know, they're starting to find the territories they're going to control for the coming season. It's a theory. LOL

Whatever the case may be, I'm enjoying it and being continually reminded that this weekend is the Great Backyard Bird Count. Today, we will go out and fill our bird feeders. They are pretty empty now. I stocked up the other day on several different types of seeds so that I could attract as many species as possible.

Happy Bird Watching!

Monday, February 9, 2009


It really is amazing the little things that can happen from time to time. This evening we were having a family bible study and when Pooh was giving his narration of events, he used gestures. Ok. I have to admit I vaguely noticed this. I was actually concentrating on what he was saying more than on what he was doing with his hands.

He wasn't going to let it go unnoticed though. He says to us, "Did you see me?" "What?" I reply. "I was using my hands when I was talking." said Pooh. Me-"Oh yeeaaahhh. Hey, who taught you that?" Pooh grins and shrugs his shoulders, then says "I just want to be like my Daddy."

First, that is so sweet! I love when the boys look at what things (hopefully, good stuff! LOL) that we're doing and say they want to be like us.

Second, HOLY COW! He's realizing that Dad uses gestures and he doesn't. THEN he's correcting himself.

Third, He's making sure we know about it! I gave him a high five. LOL

Fourth, I guess that means I can work on using more gestures and see if he picks up on some different ones. I can tell he's not quite sure the right way to use them, but he gets an A++++++ for effort. AND, it's been a while since I even thought of working on gestures. Go Figure!

Fifth, you have to laugh at the fact he chose to imitate the King in gestures. After all, he's the Latin King right? And what do you know about Latinos? Watch Out when they're talking! he he If you're unfamiliar with that concept, think Italians and you'll get a great picture in your mind.

Snoopy Dance with Me!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Canada Geese

We had a neat little experience with geese yesterday. We were walking through some open fields when Pooh spotted someone with a dog. As we followed Pooh (who was following the man with the dog to ask if he could pet him), all of a sudden a large flock of geese took off and flew right over us. Well, once the boys realized the game of sending the geese flying, they sent the other two smaller flocks into flight too. It was really cute to watch them run under the flying birds after they sent them into flight. I wish I had had my camera!

What was really neat about the experience, was listening to the sound of their wings flapping. It sounded like a mini helicopter sound. It took me a few seconds to realize what that particular sound was. I was watching the last flock before it took off and was able to note the lead goose because I saw him make his call about 10 seconds before lift off. It was really interesting to see! It makes me wish we lived closer to one of those large lakes where large flocks of birds visit in spring and fall. You know, like you only see on National Geographic. LOL

The first group did not fly in formation for a long time. It took them quite a while to realize where they were going. As they took off, they split into a few smaller groups and perhaps by the time they were out of sight they had formed the famous "V". However, as we were watching they first flew one direction, then took off into another direction. I'm sure they knew what they were doing, but it was the first time I had ever seen them 'look' disorganized.

I was able to show the boys all the 'scat' lying on the ground. That was a new word for them to learn. There was plenty of it around let me tell ya. We saw their huge tracks. I never realized what big feet? they have.

You just never know what you're going to see. And that wasn't even supposed to be a nature walk!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Lazy Days

I never did stick to my 'early to bed early to rise' habit. Oh well. I will keep trying. But in the meantime, I've been enjoying our relaxed days. Wednesday after Pooh's Art class, we met a fellow homeschooling family at McD's. Her three kids and my two boys enjoyed three hours of fun play at the playplace. And they still didn't want to leave when it was time. LOL It's been too stinking cold here for outside play. I think Wednesday's windchill put us at around 15 degrees. Blech.

After we got home, I made dinner while Pooh read to me the Daily Text, one chapter of Genesis and a couple of pages of George Washington. (He narrates with all of these.) Then we got out some of our other bible study material and finished that by 6pm. That put us with time for dinner and a movie.

Thursday we got through all of our material for the day. We use Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare. I think Pooh enjoys the stories, but they are difficult for him. There are so many people and the names are so unusual that he has a hard time keeping up. I just supply names as needed during his narration and I'll correct anything he happens to construe incorrectly. Otherwise, I don't stress much about this book. I've never read Winter's Tale which we did this week. I was glad of the happy ending. LOL It reminded me a little of Much Ado About Nothing.

Today was an extra easy day. We had Drama class in the morning and then hung around town until my tax appointment. Refunds, come to mama! ;D If you getting a refund, get your taxes done early. I heard the state of California is broke and they won't be issuing refunds anytime soon. Who knows how many other places may end up doing the same.

This weekend is supposed to be beautiful weather wise, so hopefully, we'll get out for a nice walk in the sun!

Happy Weekend everyone!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Buddy Reading

In the AmblesideOnline World, it is generally recommended that the students start taking responsibility for reading their material in Year 3 and be reading it all on their own by Year 4. When we started this past summer with Year 1, Pooh was 10 and could read very simple stuff. He was just getting into Frog and Toad style books. Now his reading has taken off. So, even though we're still in Year 1, I'm starting to turn some simple reading responsibilities over to him. (I also feel this is appropriate due to his age. He's starting AO late due to his developmental delays, but once I see an area he takes off in, I may quickly bring him up to age appropriate material. Example: I'm considering starting with very easy dictation to work on spelling and writing. I'll post about that when I decide to start it.)

Buddy reading is a great way to start the process of turning reading over to your student. For those new to the term, buddy reading is simply sitting beside your child and the two of you taking turns reading. It can be as easy as having your child read a word here and there in a sentence (holding your finger under the words for reference). Then you can move onto taking turns with sentences, paragraphs and short chapters. This is where you as the parent need to key in to the 'zone of proximal development' that your child is at. You want to slowly bring them along with their skills, challenging them little by little. Only you know your child's breaking point. You DO NOT want to reach the breaking point. I'm a firm believer in 'any lesson ending in tears will be remembered negatively'. So make sure you offer enough challenge to move them along but are still able to end on a successful note.

Pooh and I are up to buddy reading sections of our bible reading, paragraphs in stories etc. With our Year 1 book Paddle to the Sea, I let him read the chapter but I'm still there to help with difficult words. Last week when we were behind on things for the day, I actually had him read a chapter of Genesis to me while I was getting dinner ready. That way any difficult words were also taken care of by my simply going over to have a look. Another thing I'm teaching Pooh, is when he wants me to help him with a word, to let me know the beginning of it by either sounding out the beginning or giving me the beginning letters. A lot of the time I can tell him what the word is without having to look at it because of the sentence it's in. There are some words he'll sound out in reading that are done incorrectly and I can correct those immediately when we buddy read. Charlotte Mason advised that a child always be corrected right away so that a bad habit of spelling/reading isn't ingrained in the brain. Buddy reading is great for that.

It always helps me to know some of the 'in-between' things you do to get to the next level, so I hope this helps some others who aren't quite sure how you get from A. Reading all the material of Year 1 to your student to B. Your student reading all the material. It's great that we have this blogworld to help one another scaffold these tasks.

Happy Reading Everyone!