Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Product Review - ETC Online

I received an e-mail from Homeschool Buyers Co-op and followed a link to this product and to look it over. I am thinking about purchasing either a math or phonics computer "game" for summer school around here. I looked it over on my own and then called Samuel in to do the student demo. I started him at the end of Book 1 which I knew would be no challenge. Most of the exercises entailed reading two sentences and matching one of them to a picture.

It kept working him up the demo levels (not all inclusive) until I knew he wasn't reading or comprehending all the words in the sentences. However, he could read enough of the words to match one correctly to a sentence. To me, this defeats the purpose of telling me where we need to do more off-line work. To be fair, I skipped ahead to a higher level (words ending in -ed) and there were no pictures. That "game" entailed filling in the blank from a list of words to make the sentence make sense.

I have not used the ETC books before, so this may be a good fit for a family who likes and uses these books. It just isn't what I am looking for.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Summer Planning

I have just begun thinking about summer. It might have something to do with the fact that we have had several below freezing days in a row and snow two days in a row. I know my friends to the North are saying, "that's nothing", but to us in the Ohio Valley of KY, it's something.

So, on to to summer...

The obvious start is reading and read-alouds. This will continue as part of bedtime, as usual. Nothing to plan other than to make sure I have some good books in my running list that I can check out from the library. I will include some biographies and historical literature in this category.

My idea from there is to have each day be a specific "camp" day. So far I have

Art Camp
  • Watercolor Tutorials from Hearts and Trees (scroll down to the links on the sidebar) - currently she has 8 lessons
  • Usborne's I Can Draw Animals - I'm on the waiting list to check this out of the library. If I like it, I'll buy it.
  • I also may purchase the Clouds Art Show pdf, also from Hearts and Trees
  • Field trip(s) to the KY Museum of Arts and Crafts and the Speed Art Museum

Cooking Camp
Kids Cooking Lessons from Kids Cooking Activities, possibly finishing with a end of summer Pizza Cooking party with a few friends. There are 13 lessons and I may combine the Assistant Chef and the Chef in Training program because he already has kitchen experience.

Science/Nature Camp
  • Walks at local parks, exploring some we haven't been to before
  • easy science experiments from a kit he received for his last birthday and this website
  • Field trips to the Science Museum
And that's as far as I've gotten. I know I don't want to forget math, but we use math almost day, and I know that his skills are already at first grade level, except perhaps with money and time. However, having never used a formal program before, I don't know how to come up with "math camp" ideas.

My other thought is to have a whole week devoted to each subject on a rotating basis so he would have a whole art camp week, capped off by a field trip to a museum on Friday and then we wouldn't do it again untit it came up in the rotation again. However, I'm leaning more toward each "subject" being a day of the week.

But this is just my preliminary thoughts, so I'll be searching and looking for ideas all the way up to June, which is when we will start our summer, probably with a vacation.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Math Living Book Reviews

I really want to make math interesting in a real way to my son. I include him in most of the math I do to get through the day. He likes doing math worksheets now and enjoys his addition flash cards every once in while.

I love introducing new math topics by way of a story. We have read most of the Stuart J. Murphy Level 1 books more than once, and some of th Level 2 books. We even check out a Level 3 or 4 (can't remember now) book each spring called "Earth Day Hooray" which teaches recycling AND place value, even though he is just now starting to understand the idea of place value.

Grandfather Tang's Story by Ann Tompert is another book that I recently discovered. A granddaughter is playing with tangram puzzles with her grandfather and begs him to tell a story using the tangrams. The story he weaves is full of animals and they use their tangrams to make the animals in the story. The story itself is a story about friendship.

I know some people own sets of math manipulatives and probably own plastic or magnet tangram puzzles, but there is a page at the back that you can copy and cut out to have your own set. I enlarged my copy.

Samuel is 5 1/2 and this was a good introduction to using shapes. It was not easy for him and I had to help quite a bit, even though we had a pattern to follow, but he really enjoyed both the puzzles and the story.

The other book, Mathematicians Are People Too, is a great way to introduce math history. Each chapter tells of a different mathematician in history. The stories read like fiction and it really is interesting. My son enjoyed the first story about Thales; however, the next two chapters, while interesting to me, were just a little above him. I plan to check this out again in another 6 - 12 months and see how it goes over then.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

One Year Bible

I just added a new widget for the One Year Bible Blog. I have four resolutions for 2009 and beyond to improve myself in regard to these four areas:
  1. Financial
  2. Health
  3. Relationships
  4. Spiritual

Using the One Year Bible blog is one way of working on the spiritual area. I know that it would be better to let the Lord lead me in daily bible readings, but I am not disciplined enough to have daily or even weekly bible time. This is my way of having some accountability for reading the Bible. If you think this is something you would like to try, please check out that blog.