Life With Nine Kids

Monday, May 26, 2008

I LOVE IT

Well the kids love http://www.time4learning.com/ and so do I.

I'm always looking for ways to make things easier so I wanted to share what we have been using in case it could help some one else too. We have been using http://www.time4learning.com/ for a little over a week now and my kids are going nuts over it. They want to do "school" everyday. It's very cartoon like and TV like so some parents may not like that, but my kids love it and are really excelling and learning in all subjects. It's cutting my work and prep in more than half because it's all preplanned and taught online. (The best is that the site actually teaches not just gives work.) I help them when they need help and we have verbal discussions etc.. It also tracks (by day, week, or month) hours, subjects completed, lessons, quiz "grades", and so forth. Sage, who I have mentioned before hates every reading program or attempt I try loves this and is really thriving with the phonics section (finally something clicks and works for him)! The cartoons are actually pretty hilarious. There is also a story builder section (and writing program for older kids) and to my surprise Ethan is bringing me 2-3 sentence stories daily that he types up by himself with a picture. A "reward" system is set up within the site also. You can go to the "playground" and play games when you finish your work. (Parents can set the work and play time limits to whatever they want.)
I'm thrilled with Sage's progress. Sage is easily frustrated and bored with other reading/phonics lessons/workbooks. Ethan excelled with http://www.clicknkids.com/ but Sage couldn't get past the lessons after around lesson 13 or 15. He hated it.

So anyway it's really exciting that they all love it SO much! It's a great way to get school time in when I'm busy. I can also listen for when they have problems with a lesson (makes a sound when they make an error so then I know when I need to run over and help them). I find my self watching and participating in the lessons quite a bit. They are creative, engaging, and some are just funny. Charlotte just got signed up for http://www.spellingtime.com/ and I think that is going to work really well for her. We will see soon.

Today Sage wanted to know what a metaphor was and conveniently http://www.brainpop.com/ has a video about similes and metaphors.

This summer the kids will be attending a week long drama camp for 6-11 year olds. Their cousin will be in town and will also be going. It should be fun for them. Sage is a little nervous (and wants nothing to do with being on stage) but he is going because everyone else is. I really hope this is a fun experience for him. He is shy and doesn't like direct attention on him. OTHER We have spent several nice relaxing days inside and out. The kids are a tiny bit bored because we didn't go to playgroup last week and we have been staying in and saving money for our trip on Thursday. We leave for Las Vegas (my "home town") to visit family and attend my youngest brothers wedding. (I am the oldest of 5 kids.)

I'm really happy with how our kids are doing. I have been seeing a lot of learning going on and with little effort on my part. Ethan and Charlotte are reading a lot out loud to each other and their siblings. (Ethan and Charlotte read to Sage). They have a monster book (mythical beasts) and another book called History's Grossest, Wackiest Moments. They have been discussing everything from Dracula to Foo Fighters (I informed them that is also a band:) They also have learned about vikings, life before toilet paper and so many other things I can't recall now.

ART!
We recently learned how to make darling faries out of pipe cleaners, felt, flowers, and wood beads. My dear friend Molly taught us this craft and we have been having fun ever since. I didn't capture the best photos the other day but here are some samples. Pictured below is a group of fairies & fairy babies in buntings, a close up of a boy fairy Ethan helped make, and a purple haired fairy Layla helped make. They are now all happily housed in our wooden dollhouse.





MASSAGE
Today Charlotte learned the art of massage (and pampering lol) as we got treated at a day spa. We had an hour massage, and a spa pedicure/manicure! Oo-la-la! :)


ANIMAL SCIENCE & BIRTH!
Did you know opossums are marsupials? I did not know that. I'm going to ask the kids if they knew that and tomorrow we are going to watch animal births on http://www.youtube.com/ Here are some we picked out for the kids:
Kangaroo birth
Orangutan birth (Orangutan one is mine and Ricky's favorite)
Giraffe birth
Dolphin birth
3-D simulation of human birth (they've seen me give live birth more than once :) This simulation is very neat though.

Monday, May 19, 2008

schedule

Soccer is over! (Well almost, a post season soccer party is this Thursday) So I'm relieved of my soccer mom duties for this season.

We have been doing fantastic! The weather is nicer and warmer. We have spent a lot of time outdoors. We seem to be accomplishing a lot of "school work" with minimal effort. We started a new homeschool "program" and it's getting raves around the here. It's http://www.time4learning.com/ I was skeptical but it's really working and the kids are excited about it. The best part (other than they love it) is that I hardly do anything! The lessons are already in order (you can assign lessons out of order as you want too, or let them choose their own). I also get full printable reports, it logs everything for me, and so far I approve! So that has me in a good mood! The lessons are also all in cartoon format and has total audio with the lessons (which my kids are highly drawn too). It even has quizzes and grades (if you want grades). It's almost a little too cartoon for me, but they LOVE it. So I don't care.

So our "schedule" is loosely something like this right now (it changes often though!):
Mon-Mathusee, spelling, time4learning.com, mom reads
Tues-Vocab, Time4learning.com, kids game after lunch (if we are home), mom reads
Wed- Mathusee, writing, time4learning, mom reads
Thurs-Vocab, writing, playgroup all day
Fri-Spelling, time4learning.com, mathusee
Sat-kids clean their bathrooms (every other Sat. kids wash their bed sheets & vacuum basement, game with mom and dad
Sun-football or basketball drills with dad, journal



  • I'm totally not reminding Charlotte to post in her blog right now. I need to though!
  • I used to read to the older kids every night for an hour. I did that for years. Somehow we got away from it. (I think when we started on the Harry Potter audio books --a much needed break I got!) Anyway, I'm trying to read to them more again by putting it on a schedule, and doing it during the day.
Our most favorite beloved and read aloud short story books are by Jon J. Muth: Zen Shorts, Zen Ties, and The Three Wishes.



Friday, May 9, 2008

April into May...

We have been busy and right now I'm trying to figure out exactly why we have been so busy...


HAVE WE BEEN HAVING FUN?
I'm not sure what fun stuff we've been doing. We haven't gone anywhere interesting in quite a while. I am trying to plan a trip to the zoo though. The kids have been drawing a lot. They also are so into video games right now. I'm biting my tongue and acting like a good "unschooler" mom --let them have fun and play if they want (within reason). They are getting along so well, problem solving, talking, interacting, telling me how much fun they are having, and reading some new words (they ask me or Charlotte what it says sometimes). I also bought them Zoo Tycoon (they love Roller Coaster Tycoon) and they have a lot of fun creating with that. So I guess they are having a lot of fun, but since I don't "get" video games I think we have been boring around here lately. We have been waiting for the dang rain to stop so we can plant and clean up the yard.

Ricky finished up another mini semester of graduate school over a week ago. He got all A's and one B+ YAY! :) He has started his last mini semester! YAY! Since his finals are over (and he has less work load for now) we have all got some extra time with him which has been great.

I bought the kids a BIG dry erase bored which they are having a blast with. (And we can use as a group for school type things). I also heavily rearranged some of our school things, got more organized, and I'm getting rid of a box of books we don't need.

VOCAB
We started a vocab log and have a vocab word of the day. Our first two days worth I remember was 'resident' and 'morose'. I wrote "learning new words is fun!" on Charlotte's vocab log book and she laughed at me in that 'you're a dork mom' laugh. :)

GRAMMAR
I'm been debating about grammar with myself lately. More importantly sentence structure grammar. Not punctuation/spelling/writing skills type stuff but the uninteresting specifics of the English language. Charlotte and I are both bored to death with her fifth grade workbook grammar lessons (linking verbs, subject, predicate, Etc.). We only do a couple pages a week but still, it sucks! (LOL). I think it's a sign we should wait until she needs it more, or is interested in it. She would much be better off focusing the time and energy on writing in general (creative writing. journaling, the writing process, quotations, commas Etc.). Charlotte also needs more time with spelling. Oh I forgot, she does get some grammar lessons from a middle school computer program we have, and it's great (and fun) so I think we will just stick with that and not get so formal with the workbooks for now.

ORTHODONTIST/DENTIST
I took Charlotte to the orthodontist and she will get braces this summer. Boy are kids expensive. Babies are so cheap. :) Everyone should stop buying fancy cribs, crib bedding, expensive baby furniture, and accessories and just save for kids. Babies need next to nothing. Kids need everything. :)

I took the older four kids to the dentist in St Louis. We have a pediatric dentist who I just adore. We drive an hour and a half to see her. She is the nicest dentist I've ever met. The kids' teeth look great! We do have two cavities in the house (Charlotte and Sage) to take care of. BUT, she said she really noticed how great the kids are doing brushing and that my consistent flossing of their teeth really shows! I am so happy! Even Sage, who she says has just a lot of bacteria and acidity in his mouth which is causing his problems, is doing such a great job that it IS making a difference. This makes me really proud of them, but also of myself. I'm really proud that I've done such a good job keeping up on their flossing, brushing, and also sending then back to the bathroom to brush for longer! (This means they have been listening to me too!) On the way home Sage said, "Mom they are so nice there." And I replied with, "That's why I drive that far and pay their fees to take you guys there." It's so worth it to me.

OTHER
There are lots of little things I'm missing here that I'd like to write down for future memories. Like when the boys asked if Africa is in the United States (seriously we look at maps on our walls all the time how could they ask this?? (Brain fart I'm hoping!?) or like when Ethan told me Napoleon was a French emperor. Charlotte informed us all that according to her book full of "wacky, gross and weird things" apparently paintings of him show his hand inside his shirt because he was itchy. No way to know if that's a true fact or not, but I did find it cited (along with other theories) in many places online. I like what they tell me (and teach me). I like having homescoolers! :)