Monday, January 31, 2011

Snapshot Summary: A "Sensational" Day for S

Every day has it's UPS and DOWNS for S as his mind and body deals with Sensory Processing Disorder.  The fun, happy times and the meltdown, anxious times effect all of us. I've been pondering a way to show what his SPD means for him and us for a while. And I think I  found a GREAT idea at A Pilgrim's Progress blog called Snapshot Summary! The idea is to take 1-2 photographs each day to summarize a homeschooling week, but I "tweaked" it to fit my need for blogging about S's SPD. I took a series of photos throughout ONE day to share A "Sensational" Day for S
Pre-Breakfast Rolling in a Shiny Sleeping Bad 
Playing Trains and Eating Fruit Loops   
Not Enjoying Math
Refusing to do Math
Building Solar-Powered Airplanes with C
Watching J Play HIS DSi
Good Thing it Wasn't METAL
Not Liking the Rice in his Chicken n' Rice Soup

Doing Chores
Not Liking Shampooing his Hair
Pre-Bedtime Vestibular/Proprioceptive Input - Scooter Board
Pre-Bedtime Reading with C
OK. Well, the last photo was staged. I'll admit it. LOL He wasn't really asleep in his Army Surplus sleeping bag, but the heaviness and wrapping of the bag seems to calm him down at night quicker...eventually. Truthfully? It takes him HOURS to fall asleep and even then he sometimes - most nights! - ends up with A and I. He feels more comfortable wedged in between 2 people, but we're working on it!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Weekly Wrap: Days 97-100 and Making Changes!

We've completed 100 days this year! Excellent! We have just 75 days left in our 7th year of homeschooling! Alright! It's not that we don't enjoy our days - WE DO! - but we also REALLY enjoy and look forward to those fleeting warm, sunny late Spring and Summer days when we can play at the state parks, go on LONG afternoon strolls through the woods, grow veggies in our Square Foot Garden, and read books together while swaying in the hammock under the shade of the broadleaf trees. The warm weather season in  Maine seems to slip by quicker and quicker every year, and we want to be out there unscheduled and without textbooks! (OK, well, at least somewhat unscheduled! LOL)
Summer at the Atlantic - Something to look Forward To
What DID we do this week?  Well, I changed S's Daily Assignments. Sometimes refocusing on new subjects and using different curriculum SPARKS excitement when it's waning, and S had become bored with his Kumon Mazes and Dot-to-Dot Vehicle Puzzles. They're AWESOME for building his visual tracking skills (which his OT and I discovered earlier in the year he's struggling with), but he's truly mastered the maze and dot-to-dot activities. And he finished up his last lapbook. Time for a break!  Out with the old and in with the new: US States and Capital Sticker Book and Lakeshore File Folder Science Games (K-1)! I've also started having him write from memory and in order numbers on a 100 Chart grid (which I slipped into a plastic page protector so he can do this activity over and over with Dry Erase Markers) - he worked on 1-20 this week - and review Skip Counting 2s and 5s. (I can't remember where I got the paintbrush printables for skip counting so if you know let me know. LOL) What stayed the same? S'll continue on with Hooked on Phonics: Learn to Read - he started short i this week - and Horizons Math K. 
S Copying his /ig/ Words into his Journal
S Writing 1-15 on his 100s Grid from Memory

S Putting his Skip Counting Paintbrushes in Order
 Now things didn't change much for C. I've been tweaking some of her curriculum throughout the year as Spelling, Writing and Math have been rough spots. I added in Daily Grams. She gets a little Grammar from the Grammar and Writing Handbook, but it's time to reinforce those concepts and go to "the next level". And we "stepped up" the editing process on her creative writing, focusing more on descriptions, developing characters and settings, and having a clearer story line. We're only a couple of weeks into using All About Spelling Level II and she's enjoyed it SO MUCH more than Spelling Power. (I'm still holding onto Spelling Power though! LOL I think it works great...with some kids.) She'll continue on with Handwriting Without Tears, Saxon Math 54, Apologia Zoology III, and her History Pockets: Native American unit study.
R Helping C Play Guess Who Extra!

C Working Through Math
And things changed even less for J. Fortunately most curriculum just, well, fits with him. It doesn't matter if it's a VERY traditional textbook or a notebook page or on-line; he reads, does and absorbs. He worked on his Pond Press newsletter, but also started doing Creative Composition, writing longer, fictional stories and going through an multi-step editing process. (We've mostly focused on informational or report writing.) He'll continue on with middle school Grammar at The Teacher's Cafe and Wordly Wise 3000 Level 6, Teaching Textbooks Pre-Algebra, Apologia General Science with a Lap n' Learn from Live n' Learn Press, and DK's World History.
J's Tightening Loose Leg Bolts Under the Table (Home Repairman)
J Made a Positive and Negative Abacus at Not Math Math
We DEFINITELY want to continue on with our Winter Wednesday, Outdoor Hour and Science Sunday activities! The kids just LOVE  getting outdoors and learning about nature! This week we studied trees and continue observing our backyard feeder birds! Check out this week's activities by clicking here!
C's Flower Garden Planner and Notes
Now, onto our last 75 days of school! Where are those garden seed catalogs to plan for spring? Oh, yeah, J's got one planning our Square Foot Garden and C's got the other planning her flower bed!  Check out other Weekly Wrap-ups at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers and join the blog hops at Hip Homeschool Hop and Friday Blog Hop - buttons are on my sidebar!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Winter Wednesday, Outdoor Hour Challenge and Science Sunday: Conifers

My plan this week was for us to spend some time observing the winter sky, both day and night, but with the temperatures staying in the low single digits for HIGHS and negative DOUBLE digits for lows soon after the sun set, I decided to wait for some less BONE-NUMBING weather. So, we started a conifer tree study with pine trees right in our yard!
Eastern Pine - Yard Side

 Eastern Pine - Road Side
We trudged through the packed snow to look closely at a stately, old pine tree in our side yard as well as a young pine tree next to it - Eastern White Pines (Pinus strobus L.) Maine is known as "The Pine Tree State" and these trees are our State Tree. How nice that we have BOTH an old and a young pine tree to compare barks and shape!
Old Pine (left) and Young Pine (right)
The Eastern Pine has clusters of 5 3-5 inch needle-shaped leaves that do not change colors or fall off in the Autumn months. (It's an evergreen.) It has cylindrical 4-8 inch long brown cones that take 2 years to mature and release seeds. Pine trees are used in furniture and cabinet-making and the pulp is used for ceiling tiles and paper.
Cones (Taken this Summer)
Pine Needles
After making bark rubbings (with typing paper and the sides of crayons) and taking a single cluster of needles for our notebooking pages, we settled inside with Hot Cocoa and learned about our pine trees from Forest Trees of Maine (Department of Conservation Forest Services - Maine) book.
S Looking at Needles Under a Magnifying Glass
[Extra Tidbit: This book is AWESOME! It's VERY easy to use as a tree identification guide and has full-color photos of the tree, bark and leaves with written information and is broken down into specific types of trees such as pines and maples. If you live in Maine or New England, check it out for FREE at the Maine Forest Service! Click on the .pdf files on the left side.] 
Books Used for Our Pine Tree Study
We read and learned about the parts of all trees, making a diagram on our notebook pages, then added our own pine tree drawings, needle-shaped leaves and bark rubbings. (For free nature study printables, visit the Handbook of Nature Study blog.)  Here are our finished notebooking pages:
S's Notebook Page
C's Notebook Page
J's Notebook Page
 Check out other Winter Wednesday and Outdoor Hour Challenges at the Handbook of Nature Study blog and everything Science at Science Sunday by clicking on the sidebar buttons!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Weekly Wrap: Days 92-96

And it's a win! J's basketball team won their first game of the season: 27-25. Their win-loss record: 1-1.
J Defending the Basket
S had his 2nd Basketball Skills and Drills on Saturday. He sat out the last 10 minutes or so, frustrated that he wasn't making more baskets. His dribbling and passing is already improving as he didn't have to chase down as many "loose balls". But! the biggest accomplishment is that he's able to focus and follow instructions even with all the noise and movement bombarding his sensory system...and if you've been to our new Rec Center gym, well, you know, it's CRAZY noisy in there! (Go, Occupational Therapy!)
S Making a Shot
Boing! Bump! While J and A were at the Museum of Science in Boston, MA with the Boy Scouts on Sunday, C, S and I went to the Bounce Zone. Have you seen those inflated "jumpers"? Well, the Bounce Zone takes it up a notch and adds in ball pits, jousting arenas, mazes, and side-by-side racing slides. Crash! Bounce! A perfect place for a kid with sensory-seeking SPD! S LOVED it! And C had a blast too!
C Down the Slide
S Down the Slide
C Exhausted!
On a beautiful, sunny, but CHILLY Monday, we completed a full day of assignments. With J doing more and more of his work on the computer, I decided to was time to ditch the "hen peck" typing and learn keyboard skills. He started doing lessons at Dance Mat Typing. I already have SpongeBob SquarePants Typing - I know, I know! Spongebob?! But, it just might keep him interested in improving his typing with video games - and Jump Start Typing for additional practice.

The fine, dry snow turned to slippery freezing rain on Tuesday afternoon so S's OT, C's basketball practice and J's Boy Scout meeting were all canceled. Another day at home! C finished up Lesson 7: Rodentia and the Rest in Apologia Zoology III by Mapping It! Our world map is getting QUITE populated with animals from her studies! Her notebooking pages were a mixture of short summaries, pictures and drawings for this lesson.
Mapping It! Thumbnails of Where Animals Studied Live
Flying Squirrel, Beaver and Squirrel
Hedgehog, Shrew and  Hare
Colugo, Platypus and Echidna
Sloth, Anteater and Armadillo
Fortunately it was warmer in Wednesday and we were able to finish up our daily assignments and head outside for a Winter Wednesday walk. Click here to check out our Winter Wednesday nature walk photos and notebook pages! 

C and S continue to work on their unit studies. C completed 3-out-of-8 North American tribes in her History Pockets: Native Americans study. She'll be studying the Maidu next. And S finished up his Winter lapbook! He'll be taking some time off from lapbooking to do some Lakeshore File Folder Science Games and his US Geography Sticker Book. You can see their unit study accomplishments here!

S has been diligently working on his Hooked on Phonics: Learn to Read short A words and readers. Next week, he starts short i! 

S's Short A Copywork
Due to continuing slippery weather, J's Not Math Math was canceled on Thursday, but the kid's friends came over after class for an afternoon of imaginative play, Snap Circuits Electronics, Marble Run, making home videos, Arts and Crafts, building with cardboard boxes, playing in the snow, and video games.
S Making a Closed Circuit for the Speaker
S's Adjusting the Light Bulb so it'll Work
And activity cancellations continued on Friday with yet ANOTHER snowstorm this week. A WHOLE school week with NO activities?! Huh?! J woke up not feeling well anyway. We finished our week up with warm cinnamon muffins and movies.

Check out other fun Weekly Wrap-ups at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers and join up with the Friday Blog Hop and Hip Homeschool Hop by clicking on the buttons on my sidebar!

C and S's Unit Studies: Part 3 - Totems, Crystals,

Day 11: 

I found this interesting, interactive on-line book called Animals in Winter to review what we learned last week about how animals cope with the cold. If you have young ones studying animals, you should check it out!

C had fun deciding which animal represented us on her History Pocket Tlingit's totem pole. Final decision? A was the eagle, I was the butterfly, J was the whale, and S was the fox. And C? There weren't any animals left! (I think she would have chosen HORSE though! LOL)
C's Tlingit Totem Pole
S listened to one of my favorite books, Snowflake Bentley, and we looked at some of his snow crystal photographs. They ARE quite beautiful! Have you seen them? We talked about what 3 things effect how snow crystals are made (although they're all hexagonal) and S filled out a What Makes a Snowflake Unique? mini-book.  

Day 12:

C started learning about the Nez Perce, reading and coloring her History Pocket information pages and pocket title. And finished Meet Kaya: An American Girl in one reading-before-bedtime night!
Nez Perce Pocket Title and Information Pages
S and I continued on with snow crystals. He played a Snowflake visual discrimination activity. It was a hit! He LOVES making symmetric patterns (and notices right off when they're not). The Complete the Snowflake Drawing Page was challenging and frustrating for him though, but he finished it! (GREAT practice for strengthening his visual-motor processing skills.)
S Making his Visual Discrimination Snowflake

S with his Completed Snowflake
S's Complete the Snowflake
Day 13:

C made a Nez Perce Appalooza ornament. The horse was important to Native Americans, and the Nez Perce bred Appalooza horses who had spots and were fast runners.
C's Appalooza Ornament
S finished up his Winter Lapbook by making a paper snow globe using paper, markers, contact paper, and tiny white paper circles from hole-puncher. 

S's Snow Globe
Day 14:

C started reading Thunder Rolling in the Mountains, a historical fiction book about the granddaughter of Nez Perce Chief Joseph and his famous "I will fight no more forever" stand. Interestingly, Chief Joseph's name was Hinmaton Yalatikit which means "thunder that comes from the mountain". She also created a paper feather mini-book on the qualities of Chief Joseph which included bravery, spirit, determination, and great leadership. 

S made some more snowflakes using his Snowflake Visual Discrimination manipulative.

Snow (Rylant)
The Frog Princess: A Tlingit Legend from Alaska (Kimmel)
Snowflake Bentley (Martin)
Meet Kaya: An American Girl (Shaw) 
Snow Bear (George)
Dream Snow (Carle)
Snow Party (Ziefert)
Thunder Rolling in the Mountains (O'Dell)