Sunday, August 30, 2009

Arthur Ashe Kids Day Concert

K and J went with their friends to the Arthur Ashe Kids Day concert yesterday. They saw Jordin Sparks, Honor Society, and Justin Bieber. J and her bff Sam saw Honor Society at The Knitting Factory in Tribeca a year ago. They love them still, but this year they both have serious crushes on Justin Bieber. When he finished his set, the girls were right there off the stage to get a picture and be near him. He even touched K's hand, lol. Here are some pictures:






Thursday, August 27, 2009

Experientially Educated

I think I'm going to start telling people W is "experientially educated" or "experientially schooled". It just sounds a lot more interesting than "homeschooled". It's also a more accurate decription, imo. So much of what we do is hands-on and out in the real world. For example:

He has group science classes at science museums, environmental centers, farms, zoos, parks, and botanical gardens - along with nature study, experiments, field trips, and projects. He has group history classes at museums, parks, and historical societies - along with projects, timeline work, field trips, and neighborhood walkabouts. He has group art classes at art museums and art galleries - along with projects, artist study, field trips, and crafts.

He'll be in cub scouts and basketball (or maybe baseball - or both!) this year.

We spend about 9-10 hours a week at home on scheduled reading, writing, websites, and workbooks. We're going to try something called "notebooking" soon, too. I'm still doing research on that, but it looks like something W would love. The rest of the time we just love being out and about - whether it's a homeschool group class or the playground down the block or just in the backyard. Many times we'll take a trip by ourselves to someplace we've never been or someplace we've been to a lot. On rainy days he gets creative at home (building, crafting, making up games, making concoctions, drawing, cooking, etc). I'm so grateful my active boy isn't stuck behind a desk for hours and hours every day. He's able to learn by experiencing the world in a way that fits him perfectly.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hall of Science again

We took a ride over to the Hall of Science today. You know we have to get that in as often as we can! Today W watched and participated in 2 demonstrations. One was called "Air Play", which was about the properties of air and how air pressure can be really strong, the other was "The Science of Sports", which went into detail about kinetic and potential energy, aerodynamics, and various reasons why protective gear works so well. W made a craft - a comet made out of a styrofoam ball and streamers (way too young for him and he wished he spent his $2 elsewhere, lol). We also tried out the new mini-golf area. This was just built and has 9 science-related holes. It was cute. I totally sucked at it btw.

Academics was done this morning before we left. We read some Aesops and some Viking Tales, did some math, and played with those flash cards again. Out of the 172 words, he missed 6. He wrote sentences for each of them and then we did a spelling test. I gotta hand it to him - he's starting to remember words from one day to the next AND he's remembering to get into the middle of the words by actually sounding them out. This is a biggie. He is not looking at only the first and last letters and making something up as much anymore.

J and K spent the day with friends and now they're in K's room chatting and laughing together. B started freelancing and is hopeful this week's job will turn into a permanent position. God I hope so too.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

It's All Fun

The dry-erase bookshelf is so cool. W is now writing sentences with the words he misses from the flash cards. I remember hating doing this at his age. He came up with this idea himself and thinks it's the most fun thing ever. He's like, "Ooooh wait, I got one, I got one!". Then he writes out a sentence and holds it up to show me. This morning he asked if we could do some math, english, and science workbook and read a story or 2 together - oh and of course write out out more words on the bookshelf. I reminded him that it's Sunday and he said, "Yeah, I know". Man, I wish I would've had that love of learning growing up. The sentence he wrote in the photo says it all.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

We Have Begun

Started back on a light schedule with W. We are finishing up a bunch of readings we didn't get to from AmbOn1 and started with the new 3rd grade English, Math, and Science workbooks. His narrations are even better than they were last month - he's using "puppets" now to act out the stories (ok, well 2 dry-erase markers as the main characters, lol). He's so into it. Maybe it was the 2-weeks of acting classes. We're reading Viking Tales, Our Island Story, Aesop's, The Blue Fairy Book, and D'Aulaire's Buffalo Bill. I read the stories to him and he follows my finger and reads it with me. Sometimes he jumps in and takes over the last few sentences. We'll start AmbOn2 in about 3 weeks.

In keeping with the dyslexia help, I've succumbed to buying phonics and sight-word flash cards and we go through one whole stack every day. I keep the words he has trouble with to the side and he writes them on his dry-erase board. This is funny - he found an old bookcase shelf with a smooth surface and decided that is now his own dry-erase board. I was hesitant, but it wipes clean and it's the perfect size for his lap. He decided on his own to write out the words he misses. The other night he kept asking me to give him sentences to write. I was surprised to see that he knew how to spell words like "would" (and could and should), "football", and "before" without any help. He also wrote the word "what" correctly. It has always been hard for him to distinguish between "what", "that", "when", and "want". They all look the same to him. "Than" and "then" look the same and so do "these" and "those". So, it seems he has an easier time writing out words than reading them. Interesting.

We cracked open the new Science book (Science Essentials Grades 3-6) and started on dinosaurs. He loved this and grabbed his dinosaur encyclopedia to check facts and look up pictures on certain types. He lives and breathes science and wants to do experiments and projects at least 2x a week. Yay that this book has so many.

J and I are zipping through Life Of Fred Fractions and then we'll do Decimals & Percents. I figure we'll spend about a month or so on each of these books just to solidify her understanding and fill in any gaps. Then we'll spend the rest of the school year on Beginning Algebra and Advanced Algebra. She really likes these books and I plan on saving them for W since they're hardcover and non-consumable. And like I said, I bought 4 LoF books for a total of like $96 - that's less than just 1 level of TT.

B and W just brought home a luna moth caterpillar from the park. It's bright green and juicy and about as big and wide as my index finger. Ick. It looks like it's about to start a cocoon, so now we have another cool pet. He kinda reminds me of THIS GUY and we've named him Heimlich. Altogether we have 3 goldfish, a bullfrog, a snail, an anole lizard, that weird caterpillar, and a really awesome black-capped conure parrot. We're just not dog and cat people.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The kids' play was yesterday and WOW did they do a fantastic job! W's show was the first act and he hammed it up big time. He got so many laughs and people were coming up to B and me afterward raving about him. Just like the rest of us, he's very comfortable on stage. J's show was the second act. These were the more seasoned older kids. It was really funny - popular kids (rich girl, space cadet, beauty queen, triplets) fighting with the outcasts (nerd, emo, new-ager, clean freak) and then all coming together as friends at the end. Cheesy, but real cute. W can't wait to do this again next summer. J will have aged out, but she'll be so busy with tons of other things. The picture above is the whole troupe, the production team, and a $5000 check granted to them from the Aviation Development Council in Queens (they sponsor community-based programs). Now we have 3 whole weeks of NOTHING SCHEDULED. Woooooohoooooo. But we all know that after one week of free-time, we'll all be itching to get back into the swing of things. I think I'll take the kids on a few museum trips. :)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Yeah, so I have 2 teenage daughters now. J's birthday was a few days ago and we went out to my mom's for the day. Her wish was for a laptop computer and to go to a seafood restaurant with the whole family. Well, she got the restaurant with the whole family, but not the laptop. I figure, she mainly uses the computer to chat with friends, do quickie research on what interests her, listen to music, watch videos, and play games. We got her an Ipod Touch - she can do all that on it. She loves it and hasn't put it down in 4 days. I can't believe the coolness of that thing. I want one. Eventually, she'll get a laptop, since I'm sure she'll need it for school, but there's no immediate hurry.

This is the last week of the summer dance classes, then there's a 3 week break. She's done really well and is looking forward to the fall when the new season starts. It's also the last week for her and W's musical theater intensive. Lines are all memorized, songs and dances are all in order, and now we wait til Saturday to see the show. J is playing a popular airheaded teen (think Anna Faris) in her show, and W is playing an alien who won't let the earth kids leave the moon without a dance-off. Should be interesting, lol.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

The musical theater program is going well so far. They got their scripts the other day and are supposed to memorize them by Monday. One more week to go.

W has been reading aloud to me every day. I set the timer for 10 minutes - the timer is a WONDERFUL thing - and he reads one chapter in the book. We're starting with an easy book for him caled Owl At Home. He is learning to read with inflection and pay attention to the punctuation. He said "wasn't" for "wants", "wild" for "wide", and "cattle" for "kettle". He adds and leaves out the small function words (articles) like a, the, an. He can read words like yesterday and everything, but gets stuck on "is". The word "those" is completely foreign - even after seeing it 100 times. He's such a trooper, though. He's proud of himself for reading 95% of the book with no stumbling.

The summer is still going along as usual though. The kids are always out, playing, working, dancing, totally enjoying life. K went to another sweet 16 party last week. You know, fully-loaded limo to Planet Hollywood with 15 friends. Poor thing never has any excitement in her life, lol.

I'm all ready for fall to start. I'm waiting for our new metrocards to come, new schedules to start, and the new hurdles that are coming (one of which is J's high school preparations). I'm excited, the kids are excited. I love a new beginning.

Monday, August 03, 2009

A New Adventure

W has dyslexia.

It's something I has suspected over a year ago, but dismissed since his reading would take off in spurts every now and then. Also, I had no idea all that dyslexia entailed. I have no doubts in my mind, but he will get formally tested soon. I also hear that AO is wonderful with this, which I'm thankful for. I just need to do a bit more research on the best ways to help him. He's cool with it. He feels better knowing that now I know he's not just being lazy or uncooperative. It's said that dyslexia is a sign of a highly intelligent and creative person. W was very glad to know that, although I always knew that W is intelligent and creative. Now a new adventure begins. Bring it on. I'm ready for it.

In other news, both J and W got into the 2-week performing arts intensive! They go every day (Mon-Fri). W is in the 8-10 y/o group in the mornings and J is in the 11-13 y/o group in the afternoons. It works out pretty well since the place is so close to home. Each age group has their own show - to be performed twice on Aug. 15th. Today was their first day and they loved it. Fun and free. Can't beat that.