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What’s Evie been up to?

May 10, 2015

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Seems like its been awhile since I updated on Evie.

Currently she is going to OT once a week for an hour with her beloved Miss Katie.  Katie is expecting and we only have two more sessions with her. Then we are saying goodbye to OT.

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She is also attending gymnastics for one hour a week. Next fall in place of her OT, I am going to put her in twice a week gymnastics.  She is getting really strong and I feel like its a great place for her to channel all her energy.  She is super excited every week to go.  She has some difficulties listening and following directions but nothing major.  I am hoping that this proves to be something she is passionate about and can continue.  She begs me to go to dance and I am trying to get her to stick with gymnastics since I really don’t have the ability to put her in more than one activity. I may let her do a dance camp this summer to try it out.

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She loves reading and learning.  She’s asking me constantly what that spells or means or how to spell things.  She’s just too smart.

For summer, she is attending a social skills camp with Rett for 3 weeks.  She has a few social issues that I’m hoping this will help although I have seen huge growth in her since starting our music and gymnastics class and having homeschool friends over.  I was considering letting her attend social skills with Rett next fall. I may still do that but its definitely not high on my radar of things she NEEDS to do.  I will probably let our speech path see what she thinks about her needing the group or not.

Other then that, she loves princesses, animals, twirling in her dresses and getting dirty.

Kindergarten Week 21

May 10, 2015

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Week 21! Whew!  Can’t believe we are all still alive. This week our words were yes, his, her, with and come.  I started having them doing their super sight words sheets for morning work since we have been doing just the necessities with all the appointments and outdoor play time.

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This is our chart we have going on right now for Rett.  We discuss the boy words and girl words every morning. I’m hoping this helps Rett with his pronoun issues.

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I never bought the workbooks for Saxon phonics so I generally just write the words out and we sound them out together. Some days I like them to use their letter tiles and spell them out themselves.  We are working on identifying the beginning/middle and ending sound along with identifying the vowel in each word. Rett is having trouble with e vs i right now so lots of practice with that coming his way.

Our sweet friend gifted Rett a weighted vest that we are going to start using during school time. I spoke with our OT about it and I do need to add a bit more weight but it seems to be a good size for him. We’ll see if this helps him at all.

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One of our last Biscuit books.  Biscuit has been the basis of our homeschool reading program this year and that little puppy has served us well.  I already pulled out a new book for next week and trying something a bit harder.  This week when I gave them the Biscuit book they could read the whole thing without any help from me.  Time to raise the bar for my little readers.

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We are up to 80+ sight words now.  Evie was so proud that she read ALL of them this week!  Woohoo!  This is such a time consuming thing, I am planning on breaking them up into 5 groups for Tom to work on a little bit each night and start giving them one minute to read the words to see how many they can read.  Otherwise, its just overwhelming at this point.

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We started our study of the human body this week using this book.  The kids were really excited! We’ve learned about bones, muscles and joints so far.

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Saxon had us working on alphabetizing with just a few letters.  We did the beginning of the alphabet and then it had a hunk of the middle to get the concept that sometimes you don’t start at A

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Reading our sentences for the week.  I received our first grade curriculum for next year and it doesn’t really have any sight words so I plan on making up my own sight word and these type sentences for next year also.

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Continuing to work on letters vs sounds vs syllabels.  Hard concept.

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Saxon math had us working with all 3 types of coins we’ve been introduced to so far: pennies, nickels and dimes. We sorted them by type, talked about how much they were worth and how we counted them and then we worked on buying things from our grocery store in different ways.

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We also learned how to play dominoes this week. I thought of my Grandma Mary when I was teaching them. I’ve always seen her out playing dominoes with my family every labor day when we get together.  We learned about doubles and identifying the number patters on dominoes and how to play the game.

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I love these roll and reads because it really helps me see which words the kids need to work on. i try to use them in our weekly sentences in the pocket chart.  Little ways I can custom tailor their education to what they need to work on.

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After two small activities, Saxon had us alphabetize our entire tub or letter tiles. I was thinking this was a pretty big jump but apparently Saxon knew that these smarties wouldn’t find this difficult at all. They breezed right through it.

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Still working through our Star Wars book when we have time.  We’re practicing our teen numbers.  Evie’s 5’s look ahmAZing now! So proud of her.  They love that the other side of the work book has a little mission for them and they are always begging me to read who they are going to help for the activity.  My wanna-be Jedis.

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We had some park time with our sweet friend Sammy and his family.

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Evie and I took a nature walk while the boys were in therapy and found a spit bug nest.  I had to post it on my gardening group to find out what in the world it was! Learning is everywhere.

We read some good books this week and the kids watched some magic school bus and played outside for many, many hours.   Now that the weather nice, most of the good learning is spent outside in bathing suits and rain boots exploring the yard and bringing me the treasures they find.

Kindergarten week 20

May 3, 2015

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Well the sickies have hit our family AGAIN this week. 2 days for Evie, one day for me and daddy has been hit the hardest. He’s been sick for quite awhile now.  Our luck with the stomach bug has not been good. My goal of just getting through Saxon lessons continues to be a good one. I even made them do their lessons when Evie was sick. She was up playing video games so figured she was well enough for school.

Saxon introduced the concept of ‘half’.  The children had different sizes of rectangles and they had to figure out which color would cover half.  How many halves it took to cover the whole.  I love this visual approach. Just makes so much more sense.

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Still working on our tangrams. The kids had to follow verbal directions ‘ use your small triangles, medium triangles, square’. They are identifying the parallelogram now. They know their tangram set has 7 pieces.  They are learning how to flip, turn and rotate their pieces to cover shapes.

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I love how studious Evie looks.  This sheet had them write the number before and after the one in the rainbow.  They are both still struggling with the vocab ‘before’ and ‘after’ and using it appropriately even though they can easily do the worksheet.

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Evie drew this picture on the back of her worksheet while she waited for Rett to get done. Its Rapunzel with flowers in her hair.

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Saxon introduced nickels this week. We’ve learned how to count by 5’s to 100.  We figured out how many nickels it took to make 5,10, 15, 20 and 25 cents.  We wrote down those numbers and drew the amount of nickels next to them.  We also practiced buying items at our ‘store’.  This was over the course of the week with several mini lessons building up.

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We worked on covering up more complex shapes with our tangram blocks.  Tom had to come down and help me figure out one of the sheets. Apparently I need some kindergarten math work as well.

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I went to clean up our celery experiment and it had sprouted!  I might plant it outside and see if it’ll grow. We aren’t huge celery eaters but I think the kids would get a kick out of it.

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We had our homeschool friends over for water play on Friday.  It was only 71 but when you’re 5, that’s warm enough!  We have been so blessed with wonderful homeschool friends.  Whenever someone asks me why we homeschool, sometimes I find it hard to put into words how amazing this experience has been.

I didn’t take any photos of our Saxon phonics this week! Its so hands on I have a hard time finding a second to take a photo.  The kids are working on counting words within sentences, counting syllabels and counting sounds. Its really hammering this in so they get the concept of the difference between sentences/sounds/syllabels.  It does this by having them count different ways. They clap syllables, they put their fingers up for words in a sentence.  Little lightbulbs.   We listened for vowel sounds within words and added a TON of apple words to our wall this week.  Its really upping the words there.  I dread that part of the day because it seems to take SO LONG to read through the list but they are reading those words in other places so I know its helping. I just don’t know how often a child will read the word ‘mist’.  It does however bring up some good vocabulary for us to go over!

For reading, we worked on the words ‘boy’ ‘girl’ he’ and ‘she’ this week.  I made a little chart with a picture of a girl and a boy and we put the correct words under them. Our sentences this week were with our community helpers. ‘Who is this girl? She is a dentist.’   We also read a new Biscuit book. The kids didn’t even need me to pre-read it to them.  We are graduating from Biscuit books soon 😦

Camp You B You 2015

April 29, 2015

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We just got back from another awesome family camp experience at Camp Twin Lakes for Camp You B You hosted by the Marcus Autism Center.  Again.. another amazing weekend of fun.  All meals, snacks and activities are provided.  There weren’t as many people this year I think because of spring break and the weather.  Friday night was a little rainy when we showed up but Saturday and Sunday were dry.

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We have officially reached 2 cabin numbers.  Each large unit is divided into 3 separate cabins with wall dividers.  Rett’s friend Sammy and his family came so we had requested being together. So with us having 2 and them having 1, we had a great sleeping arrangement.  Sammy’s baby brother ended up getting sick and they had to go back early so we actually ended up having the entire unit to ourselves.

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We headed to rock climbing straight off again.  Rett made it to the half way point.

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Evie was willing to attempt. She got half way to the half way point.

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Daddy showed off by climbing to the top and ringing the bell.

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The kids enjoyed the horseback riding SO much, I really feel bad we didn’t sign up last year.  All 3 were very brave to get on the big horses.  They are therapy horses so very intune with the children.  Evie still talks about how her horse’s name was ‘Pretty’.   All the people working with the horses and children were fantastic. This was one activity you had to sign up for a time and only have one turn. The kids were disappointed the next day when we couldn’t go back.

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Archery was another favorite this year.  I could tell how much stronger Rett was when he was pulling the string back this year compared to last year.  Children with compound bows, have to love it.

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We took a little snack break between archery and fishing.

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The kids were dedicated to wanting to catch something.. but nothing was biting. We tried our hand at fishing for a long time though!  The kids had more patience than I had.

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We had a little bit of playground time while we waited for the field day activities to be set up.

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My kids weren’t overly impressed with the games. We ended up going back to the cabin for some down time before dropping them off for kids activities while the parents had a chance to talk in small group.

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I can’t believe last year when we came for the first time, I was pregnant with this little guy!

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Day number two, the kids couldn’t wait to get back to archery!

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The day was much more overcast and chilly on Sunday but the kids were too excited to care. On our way to fishing round 2!

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Fishing was much more successful this day! Rett caught the first one, Sammy caught one and I caught one but it got off the hook before I could pull it up. I swear there’s a fish under his hand.

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Day 2, Rett rang the bell at the top for the first time. He was totally determined when he got on that wall to make it all the way to the top.  I can’t express how proud I was of him.  He has come so far from being scared of so many things to finding his bravery and pushing through the anxiety.  I don’t have a photo of the moment because I was too busy taking video.

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Thaddeus braved the rock wall the second day too.  I’m sure he’ll climb even higher next year.

After that, we had even MORE archery and then it was time to pack up and head home.  We had an amazing time, again.  I so appreciate this event that they host and wish all families had access to a weekend where your child is accepted, they can have a great time doing simple, fun activities and the parents feel like they are among their people.  Its just such a rewarding experience.

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Until October, Camp Will-A-Way, we’ll be missing you!

Kindergarten week 18&19

April 26, 2015

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Between the kids being sick, me being sick and crazy amounts of appointments, its been awhile since we had a traditional week of school.  So I’m just sitting down and making msyelf blog what we’ve done since I blogged last even though the weeks sort of mesh together.   I have moved away from coloring by number or word and gone on to harder work. This sheet they have to read the word and decide what word family it goes with, write the word and then color the space.  Its taking them a long time now but I know before long they’ll be whizzing through it also.

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We are still working through our kumon drawing book. I’m not sure how this is really helping their drawing but its fun on the days that they are actually able to draw the object.  Those days seem to be few and far between but here’s a pretty good boot drawn by Rett.

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Evie unscrambling some words. Sounding out and hearing all the different sounds within words has really clicked with her lately.  She’s doing a great job.

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We had a little mini lesson on exclamation points and the kids came up with some things they were excited about. Evie chose school and Rett chose his OT.

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We graphed different easter eggs and discussed the graph.  The kids are really catching onto comparing and adding the different rows together.

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Another day of our new morning work.

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Doing some addition dominoes.

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We are working through our star wars book still. Its really way too easy for them but it gives them some extra practice with number writing. And they just really like to see their favorite characters.

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Saxon had the kids working with the geoboards and copying my designs. They had to figure out how many rubber bands they were going to need and then create it on their own geoboards.  Some of them were a little tricky.

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Another good day of drawing for Rett. Some happy watermelons.

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Since school has been so hit or miss, we’ve had the same words for awhile now.  We’ve been working on from, your and give.  The sentences this week involved community helpers.  I probably could have gone on this last week but I wanted them to really have the words. They are getting so many other words from their little readers I’m not that worried about their sight words.

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This activity had them roll the dice, choose a word from that column to read to me and then trace it.

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Saxon had the kids doing ABC patterns and trying to figure out how many shapes they would need for that type of pattern and then building a fence. We described the pattern with our ABC and then as colors and shapes.

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Trying to make more time for art.  A little watercolor fun.

kindergarten16Kumon is seriously drilling those +1’s into the kids heads. If your kid doesn’t like to do 50000000 math problems,I’m not sure how you’d get through this book.  They can really spit them out fast now but are still having trouble looking at an addition page with mixed up addition and finding the +1’s and knowing the answers.  I generally love kumon though so trusting that its going to lead them to that last step of understanding.

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Evie doing cut and paste counting backwards from 20.

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I am absolutely loving these comprehension sheets.  The kids read a few sentences, then draw in the box what they read. Then at the bottom it has a few questions about the entire story.  They are going to be putting out a packet of just these in a few weeks and I’m hoping that next year we can do something like this for morning work every morning.

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Evie working through her addition problems.

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Saxon had us acting out story problems with our pattern blocks and bears.  Their work mats were movie theaters and the pattern blocks were shapes.  We took turns letting bears go get popcorn or use the bathroom and counting how many were left.  Then they each got to make up their own stories.Evie chose for the bears to go to the circus and Rett chose for them to go to the ice cream parlor.  I love how hands on and visual Saxon is.

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Spelling some of our words in saxon phonics.

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I randomly chose this book to read to the kids one morning and it was actually really cute. The parents leave expecting the baby sitter to show up and that doesn’t happen. The mother had mentioned that morning that she wanted the house painted so the kids decide to be helpful.

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We had a little art lesson on house drawing and then the kids painted their houses.

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Saxon introduced card suites and we put the cards in order from Ace to 10.  Then they learned how to play War to compare numbers.

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We’ve added a lot of apple words to our wall. I need to figure out where I’m going to keep adding them. Lachlan keeps ripping them off if I’m not watching him super close.

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Saxon has us doing estimation every day now. I write down what they estimated and then we count it up and talk about if our guesses were too high or too low.  Sometimes if they were way off, I will put that much into the jar so they can see what their guess would have looked like.

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We also have been working with tangram pieces.  This was the introduction.

I’m sure you noticed that we are doing a LOT of Saxon right now. I have shuffled our day around because a lot of the time we would just not get to our Saxon lessons because things would come up or we’d run out of time.  So now I’m doing 2 lessons a day right off the bat. I try to do a cut and paste or art in between but I know we need to get through the manuals so we are getting through them.  I’m hoping to be done with Saxon at the end of May and using the summer to do some different things to prep for first.  The kids also have 3 weeks of social skills camp in June. I’m going to toss all their readers in the car and have them read aloud on the way but other then that, there won’t be much school work since they are going to be gone from 9-4 everyday.

Our Curriculum Choices for the 2015/2016 School Year

March 28, 2015

I know it seems early to be deciding on curriculum for first grade but I want to order everything this summer so I can make sure the kids are where they need to be when we begin in the fall.  So after a lot of researching, reading, thinking about things and discussing decisions with my husband, this is our line up so far.  I will add things as we add them throughout the year.

After piecing things together myself this year and not having much of a curriculum per se, I was both excited and overwhelmed with the amount of offerings out there in some subjects and how to decide what to use.

Math- Saxon Math for 1st grade  This is a freebie of sorts because I taught this curriculum and already own the teacher’s manual and manipulatives.  All I will have to buy is the student workbooks. Because of this I am really considering doing another math program also but have not completely decided yet.  I am hoping to go to a home school conference or something this summer to look at curriculums.

PhonicsSaxon Phonics for 1st Grade I am really enjoying the phonics program this year. Rett is doing extremely well with it and I love the way it explains the rules and coding of the words.  This seems to really speak to him as a phonetic reader.  I’m excited to see how the 1st grade version serves him.

Reading- Lightning Literature and Composition Grade 1  I was looking for reviews on reading curriculum and was seriously considering going with ABEKA because of the strong writing component to it. However, I felt led to this curriculum because it uses quality literature, some I already own and I felt that this would serve our family better.  This is just a guide and you buy the books or get them from the library separately.  You can read more about this program here.

LiteratureClassic Literature Volume 1 We will be doing these as read alouds in the morning after calendar time. One of my favorite bloggers put these together and I’m really excited to see how it works into our comprehension and beginning to work with larger chunks of quality literature.

VocabWordly Wise I saw this on a blog and they are super cheap so we’re going to try them out and see how they work for us. Evie is a crazy word person. She picks up a lot of new vocabulary from our books and immediately starts trying them out at home so I’m excited to see how she reacts to direct vocabulary teaching.

History The Story of the World This is not a secular history curriculum. I was hoping for a secular science and history but from reviews, people are generally impressed and happy with using this. I will also be purchasing the work book to go along with this.

Art Science Arts- Discovering Science through Art and Primary Art, its the process not the produce I dislike crafts. I want art that children really create not something I have to do half the work.  These books are easy to follow, simple and fun. And they are actually art.  I am hoping we can make our way through these. She has lots of other books also that I’m looking forward to.  Hoping to find something to start introduce art and artists but that may have to wait till next year.

Music Going to try to teach them either piano since I bought the keyboard or I might do recorder next year.  We will do the music class that we’ve been doing this year also and they get basic music theory in there.

Handwriting Draw Write Now  This book is actually in my possession already and I have not yet started using it.  Its a copy from book not something you need to buy more than one of. I’m open to other handwriting curriculums but this one seemed fun, I would love to find an overhead projector that I could use for handwriting.  I guess I’ll be on the hunt for that.

Science After looking at quite a few options, in the end I found nothing that seemed to be what I was looking for.  I am thinking we may do science for a week, history for a week or geography, etc depending on our literature and what it leans towards. I want to get back into unit studies. Kindergarten was difficult because we were just reading Biscuit books over and over and over but next year this will be an option.

So that’s what I have lined up for us!  Whew! Along with Kumon books I’m sure.  I’m so excited for first grade!

Kindergarten Week 17

March 27, 2015

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We’re switching gears to Easter this week! The kids are very excited about all things bunnies, chicks and egg hunting.

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The kids have had their play doh and writing practice kits in their free time box for awhile now. Lazy mama.  Randomly they are exploring stamping objects into the play doh. They’ve experimented with their shoe designs and how they are different from shoe to shoe.  This day Rett decided to stamp the heads and tails into it.  He called it ‘heads and walls’. Which actually makes more sense.

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Evie formed hers into an easter egg before she started. She used crayons and a little bouncy squish ball and her shoe to add different textures.

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Working on patterns in our math workbook.

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We did a few spring vs non spring classifying cut and paste sheets. I was surprised that the kids seemed to actually need to work on this.   I asked them ‘do we do this when its warm?’.  At one point, Rett picked up the pumpkin and I asked him if we celebrate Halloween when its warm.  He said ‘No but if you put a candle in the pumpkin, it is warm.’  Its those little glimpses into how his mind works that is so interesting.

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I’m not all that impressed with the Kumon drawing book.  I feel like it really skips steps to teach them to draw the object.  I can see where my kids are going with their drawing but they aren’t seeing how the picture is all connected. Sometimes the perspective is REALLY weird, like the hot dog is slightly angled from the side view.   Or maybe they just got my inability to draw gene.

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I’ve been reflecting on our curriculum choices for this year and reading reviews of a lot of curriculum as I prepare for next year.  I’ve read a lot about how Saxon math is a year behind. Maybe it is but I have REALLY enjoyed the math curriculum this year.  I have never taught Saxon kinder and I love that its 0 worksheets and its all hands on making sense of numbers, graphs, patterns and money.  Maybe my kids were just lacking some basic skills since they never did preschool but it has been FUN and we have all looked forward to our daily math lesson.  This one teaches the kids to follow a recipe, talks about using a one cup measuring to mix it to make green water.  I did supplement a lot this year with other things but I love the simple, fun activities of Saxon and don’t regret doing it this year.

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I put the green water into the water table and let them explore and play for awhile.

kindergarten8This worksheet is a hidden words one. You write the words in white letters and let the kids color over them in marker to reveal the secret word. They loved playing secret agent and discovering our new sight words for the week!

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I introduced 5 words this week since I felt like they already knew some and they were relatively easy. Our sight words were good, eat, at, an and get

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We started learning about plants this week.  We made an anchor chart with the different parts of the plant and what plants need to live.  Then they did this cut and paste to label the plant.

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Spring seems like the perfect time to get some new crayons. I bought quite a few new art supplies this week to use. I purchased a new art book that I’m excited to start working through written by an elementary art teacher.

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Saxon had us working to cover up shapes using different pattern blocks.

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Labeling what plants need to grow.

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We explored some different kinds of seeds and discussed how they looked different. Then we glued them onto our paper for what type they were: flower, grass or vegetable.

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I purchased this mini greenhouse at Target to plant our babies in.  The kids are pretty excited to see their sprouts. I’m sure they’ll pop up any day now. 😉

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We also planted our green bean seeds in baggies. Rett thought it was magic and they would just sprout out immediately. What a disappointment! And when the next morning they STILL hadn’t grown.. whew. I didn’t know if we were going to survive that let down.

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We finally started doing addition in our addition book. We are working on plus one which I always call our birthday addition problem.  You were four, then you had your birthday and now you’re 5.  We’ve went up to 30 so far. I haven’t peeked ahead to see what’s next but I really love this approach of introducing one type of addition problem at a time.

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Our messy messes cut and paste. Labeling a bunny.

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Rett has been spending a lot of times out back finding various little friends. He has a caterpillar named Tarzan currently in a Mason jar in his room. He also found this guy, a snail without a shell as he put it.

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We finished up our first math book so I ordered this star wars brain quest one.  It started out with practicing number writing again which was fine with me since a few of our numbers could use help.

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I plan on continuing the super sight word sheets next year also.  I love the various activities on one page and how they have to build the word at the bottom as the final step. They really seem to help introduce the words and help them memorize them.

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We talked about the job of the plant parts and put celery in water to show how it carries the water up to the leaves.  After I did this, everyone gave me advice on my instagram feed on how to make sure its actually going to work so I’m not sure I have much hope for this first trial run.   Might have to sneak in some new celery this weekend.

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Saxon had me introduce quart and half gallon containers. We discussed empty, full and half empty.  We transferred the water from the half gallon container into two quarts.  Then it went out into the water table and we had some play time out there.

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Some basic addition. I had them find the +1’s first and reminded them that it was their birthday addition problem. We’re getting there…

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Continuing to work on dimes. Rett actually correctly identified them this week!  We set up our pretend grocery store and bought things up to 1.00 this week!

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Thaddeus loves when someone chooses the foot book because we have 3 copies of it! He impresses me with his ability to keep up and turn the pages at the right time. He has memorized most of it and loves to show off how he can track his words like the big kids.  If he wasn’t going into preschool next year, I bet he would be reading during our first grade year. He so wants to be like the bigs.

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I found one of these hidden puzzle worksheets that they filled out.  It was pretty hard for them to look down and see what they needed to color next and keep on task.  I might need to find more of these.

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We also discussed letters today when sending some Easter cards to friends.  I talked about address placement on the envelope and how the mailman knows where to bring the letters.

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We had a light day today because I hosted a little mini Easter egg hunt indoors since it was chilly and we enjoyed a little tea party with gingerbread cookies.  So holiday appropriate! ha! Don’t mind my wall, trying to decide on what paint colors to use.

If you want to follow me on instagram, this is a link to my profile.

And if you found something you’re interested in using yourself, here is my pinterest board for the week.

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