Catching Up.. Barely!

Since we last posted, Tornado Boy has:

Visited Wild Animals:

Taken Driving Lessons:

Played at many watering holes:

Played around with musical composition:
Music

Built himself into a sand castle:

Met Captain America:

Tried his hand at being a pilot:

Gave being a chef a whirl:

Rode a camel for the first time:

Had his first loose tooth:

What we have not done is very much “schooling”. We’ve learned plenty because it’s so much a part of our every day life. We took the summer off from anything formal. I had planned to do year round schooling, but we ended up moving at the end of the summer and the process leading up to that didn’t lend itself to much of anything formal at all. My husband has changed jobs and companies for the first time in 25 years. We also moved away from the town where we had both been for almost 25 years. We are in a much more urban area now and it really has meant many changes for us.

We opted not to pursue any formal classes for this fall. We are still going back and forth between the old house and the new one, plus throwing in some travel. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to find some appropriate classes for Tornado Boy in the spring. We’re still able to do some activities with one homeschool group that we were a part of and we’re about to give a new one a try in a couple of weeks.

We have a great new classroom space at the new house (a loft bedroom that’s about perfect), but we don’t have the boxes unpacked. We’ve been doing a lot of spontaneous lessons and a lot of things on the iPad in the meantime. Portability has been very important of late.

Anyway, we’re still around, still homeschooling and still hoping for a good 1st grade year. Thanks for stopping by!

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Tiny Talk Tuesday


One morning a couple of days ago, Tornado Boy came out to greet me when he was supposed to be changing into his clothes for the day. He was giggling mightily with his pants on his head. He said: “Look, I’m Picasso!”

Yesterday morning we went to the park for a nature walk. We happened upon this goose who clearly had a wounded wing. I asked Tornado Boy what he thought may have happened to the goose. He told me that he thought he was attacked by either “a jaguar or a piranha”. Evidently we have some serious predators that I wasn’t aware of in the park!

See what others are saying at Not Before 7.

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Money – A Rabbit Trail….

One thing that I’ve definitely learned over the last couple of years is that Tornado Boy is very much an immersive learner. Once he gets interested in a topic, he will want to explore in great depth until he gets interested in something else. I sometimes feel that any long term plans that I make are a bit foolish because in the end we will end up following his chosen path anyway. We had a major rabbit trail this spring when we started to study money during our “Community” unit in the Moving Beyond the Page curriculum. The curriculum had some basics about skip counting by fives and tens, the value of different denominations of money, earning money, spending, saving and giving money. Tornado Boy wanted to know far more than that, so off we went on our adventure….

We Read Books:
We read a lot of books (all featured in the widget above) about money. The more we learned, the more TB wanted to know. I particularly liked Shel Silverstein’s poem “Smart” that’s featured in his book Where the Sidewalk Ends. It is a fun tale of all the great trades that a child makes with his money. It’s a great discussion starter for you and your child. There are several video presentations and lesson plans to go along with the poem online.

One of the things that really seemed to concern TB is that the value of coins doesn’t match their size. He is thoroughly convinced that the dime should be the value of a penny since it is the smallest coin. He’s also not a fan of the half dollar being larger than the dollar coin. One of the reasons that I really like the Coin Counting Book is because it shows the relative sizes and real appearance of the coins. TB has accepted all of the correct values of the coins, but he really dislikes the system. Can’t say that I blame him. He’s also lobbying for a metric system for time – good luck with that, little man!

We Played Games:
We played Triple Play Math Money as Alvin looked on – TB has a serious “Chipmunks” fascination. In this game, you compete against one another to get the most matches of coins and prize cards. TB learned a lot about sportsmanship playing games this spring because he didn’t always win and he wasn’t always happy about it. We had a lot of fun, and he learned a few hard lessons along the way.

TB used his Learning Resources Teaching Cash Register extensively. I like this toy because it has a bunch of different modes and can reinforce money recognition as well as adding and subtracting. I wish the cash drawer was larger, though. There’s only room for three kinds of bills, but it comes with four denominations. We also have a Teaching Cash Register Activity Book that I think I bought separately when we first got the register a couple of years ago. It has some good extension activities for writing prices, making change, multiplying to get prices of multiple items and the like. The cash register is definitely one of our most heavily used learning toys. Here’s TB working on adding coins for use in the cash register:

Tornado Boy played with coin cards. They’re a self-correcting set of cards that has the child match the coins shown to their correct total value. I love this type of exercise because he doesn’t need my help to know if he has them all right. This type of activity allows me to get other lesson elements prepped, unfortunately these cards (originally from Learning Resources) no longer seem to be available.

We absolutely loved Cash Cow for the iPod. This was where TB really had a breakthrough in how coins add up to other values. When you click on five pennies, they magically become a nickel in the game. The same is true for any other valid combination of up to ten coins. Here’s a preview of the game play:

We Watched a Few Videos:
There are several money related videos on Brain Pop Jr. if you have a membership or access through your school. Their content is top notch and they have additional learning activities based on the video content as well. If you have an iPod, iPad or iPhone or use Google Chrome, I definitely recommend getting the free Brain Pop daily featured movie app. The content is older than the Jr. site, but still done very well and worth watching.

TB watched Money & Making Change by Rock n Learn in the car several times. I never saw it in full, but he loved it. This video caused another small rabbit trail for us as TB was fascinated by the Golden Dollar coin featuring Sacajawea. We ended up reading about Lewis & Clark’s expedition and doing a side history lesson to learn more about her, including reading the Value Tales book about her called “Adventure”.

Here’s a preview of the Money & Making Change video:

We Used Real Money:
We reinforced the “rule of halves” that my Father-in-Law introduced to me last year. Tornado Boy desperately wanted a Crayola Magic Light Brush toy that the reviews were not very good on. Santa Claus failed to deliver back in December, so TB got to pay for half of it. Here he is counting out the dollars that he had in his piggy bank and then proudly displaying his purchase:

We talked about real money, its history and some of the new security features of our bills. Tornado Boy and his Dad designed their own currency – the $11,000 bill featuring a photo of TB (not sure where it’s wandered off to at the moment). We have started collecting the state quarters to learn more about U.S. Geography. Each time we get change somewhere it’s like a treasure hunt to see what kind of quarters we may have gotten. There are an amazing amount of free resources online if you Google “elementary school money lesson plans”.

We also opened a non-college savings account for TB. We were lucky enough to hit a special with an online bank that gave a $25 bonus when you opened an account so that TB could see “real” (though unrealistic) rewards of putting your money in the bank. We talked a lot about saving, spending and giving your money.

As TB’s money fascination was winding down, we had the following conversation in the car one day:

  • Me: TB, I have a question for you. If you went into the store and you wanted to buy something that cost 80 cents, but you only had a dollar, how much change would the clerk need to give you?
  • TB: (thinks for a moment) 2 dimes.
  • Me: Ok, what if the clerk didn’t have 2 dimes, what else could she give you?
  • TB: (thinks again) Well, she could give me a half dollar and then I could give her 3 dimes.

I was completely floored. I was totally expecting four nickels or twenty pennies. Nice way to think outside the box, little man! I was really, really pleased with this rabbit trail. It was not at all what I had planned for us, but I really feel like Tornado Boy learned some valuable lessons and had a lot of fun doing it. I’m curious to see what his next fascination will be.

I’m also linking this post to the math lessons on love2learn2day.

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Tiny Talk Tuesday


Tornado Boy: Mom, it’s 8:16.
Me: (facing away from clock) Yes, I know.
Tornado Boy: How do you know? Do you have compound eyes?

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Science Weekly – Product Review

The folks at Science Weekly sent a bundle of their leaflets to different TOS Crew members to review. We received the “fractions” topic edition to evaluate. We received a copy of each of the six levels (grade level editions) as well as the teacher’s edition/answer key of the leaflet. Each edition is a color paper 11″ X 17″, folded into four pages. The levels start at “Level Pre-A” (equivalent to Kindergarten) and go through “Level E” (equivalent to grades 5/6). You can preview a sample edition at each level on the topic of coral reefs here. The higher the grade level, the more involved the leaflet is.

Topics in Science Weekly for this past school year were:

I was glad that we had the opportunity to look at all the levels of the leaflets. I felt like the value of a subscription was much higher at the higher grade levels where there was a significant increase in content, despite the consistent page length. The upper levels had great experiments, vocabulary and relevant information in the issue. The lower levels were colorful and engaging, but the pricing seemed steep for what appeared to be a few Kindergarten worksheets. Science Weekly has done a great job in creating age appropriate content, but having the pricing be the same across all levels seems odd for what you get.

Science Weekly is available for $19.95 per year for 15 issues for an individual student. Classroom orders can be placed for $4.95 per student with a minimum of 20 students. The individual subscription includes one level of the leaflet as well as a teacher’s edition. You have to select the specific level that you want to subscribe to. A classroom order can include multiple levels, plus one teacher edition per 25 student editions.

Science Weekly also has a new section of leveled interactive activities that we really enjoyed. These electronic versions are similar to the leaflet that I received, but they can be used online or downloaded (see page 8 after you choose a topic) for later use. The teacher’s edition can also be downloaded on page 8 of each topic.

Overall I felt that the Science Weekly materials were well thought out and interesting for both children and teachers. We didn’t do a lot of formal science this year and I’d like having leaflets like these to base some of our schooling on, though I’d probably order a grade level up for Tornado Boy. He really enjoyed the combination of math and science that several of the issues seemed to have.

If you’d like to see what other TOS Review Crew members think of Science Weekly, you can visit our Crew blog.

Thanks so much for reading!

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Disclaimer: I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew for 2010-2011 and receive free products and services in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences with the products and services that I have received.

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