Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Spelling ..... Noooooooo!

Our first week of school was really good!  We started into all of our subjects except spelling.  We use the curriculum Spelling Power for spelling.  My kids are using Learning Language Arts through Literature (LLATL) which has a good spelling approach, but I like Spelling Power even better than that.
When my kids started school at an excellent Christian school, they used a certain curriculum and it was decent enough that I continued using it for a while in our homeschool.  The more we worked with it, I discovered what I liked and what I definitely did NOT like.  I would say that by far, spelling was the worst portion of it (OK I disliked the math almost equally).  It reminded me of the spelling that I did in grade school and while it has been in effect for years and years, it doesn't help you understand spelling.  It makes you memorize a list of words and how to spell them.  If you are good at that, you're good at spelling, if not you have to rely on spell check.  Judging by Facebook and Twitter and other online resources, spell check doesn't even work for some people. 
The approach through LLATL is having the child write a sentence or paragraph that you read and whatever misspelled words are on their papers becomes the beginning of the spelling list.  I am not going into the details of their method, but it is a good plan.  We even tried it for a little while and I felt like it was more beneficial than a random list.  Then I came across Spelling Power through
Here is this HUGE book that covers spelling from early grades through high school.  I opened the cover and after the table of contents and introduction there is 100 pages of teacher instructions!  They recommend that you read it before beginning the program and it is very important.  Part of the reason I didn't start it right away is because of that 100-page non-entertaining reading that I needed to do.  I think they have a video now to explain everything. 
I started my kids out on the placement test provided.  It was very accurate in placing the kids where they needed to be.  The next year I did the pre-test and it placed the kids nearly where they left off the year before.  This is our third year, so I opted to just start out with the lists that we left off on last year.  It is working out well and though my kids complained on Monday when we began spelling again, they really didn't have any complaints in doing it.  They are quick to go through the proper steps and it is like this is just part of their expectations now.
Spelling Power takes 15 minutes a day for the kids and just over 5 minutes of my time per child per day.  They are placed in a level by letter and not by grade.  They get groups of words that all follow the same rule.  Every few groups they get a review test without hearing the rules.  There is a midlevel test and end of level tests.  During the daily portions, I set the timer on my phone for 5 minutes.  I read a word, give a sentence and they write it down.  Once they've written it, we grade it right then.  If they missed the word, they cross it out and write the correct spelling in the space provided.  If they get it right or they've finished writing the correctly spelled word, we repeat the process with the next word on the list.  This continues until the timer goes off.  I mark in my book where we left off and they move on.  There is a 10-step method for the child to learn his or her missed words and then he or she has to make up a sentence using the missed word(s).  This takes about 5 minutes and then they do an activity to help them remember the rule which takes another 5 minutes.  I purchased the activity task cards that are optional.
When we're doing other writing projects, I can use the rules to help them with a difficult word because I know the rules now.  It has been quite beneficial.  I've always been a fairly good speller, so I desire to pass that down to my children as well.  I know that the curriculum gives strict instructions, but I do modify them as I do with most of what I teach.  I feel that if I use my own words that I can explain things better. 
Cost seems an issue, but really is not.  The initial might seem a little steep, especially if you want to buy the deluxe pack for $175 from their website.  The book alone is $65 and activity cards are $30 and student books are $8 each.  The deluxe pack includes a lot of cool things that I don't have and can't speak for.  The thing is, once you've made the initial investment, all you have left yearly is the Student Record Book to purchase for each child.  We generally have been using 2 per child per year and I get them from with my Amazon Prime subscription so that I can get free shipping.
I'm not compensated in any way for writing what I did.  This is just a product I believe in and will use until I'm done homeschooling.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Week One ... Success!

Sis doing Life of Fred math
So grateful to God for the opportunity to have a direct roll in the education of my children!  This week has a few rough spots, but all in all it has been wonderful!
We have completed book work at a decent time every day!  My house is not a disaster, but it isn't spectacular either.  I'm over that!  I refuse to try to be what I see others be.  We do not live in filth, but I don't even aspire to live in a spotless shining mansion!  Mostly because I don't want to clean one.

Crystal Palace
We are still loving Story of the World and I've decided to do one book over a 2 year period this time.  It is great to have the freedom to take a closer look at each culture and spend time getting a feel for what took place in that time period.  Today we made a primitive model of the Crystal Palace from Great Britain's "Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations."  It turned out alright!

I'm hoping this isn't something short-lived, but my kids are super excited about math.  Math has never EVER been something that the kids were begging to do.  We started Life of Fred this year and the kids love it!  Now I did start them at the beginning so that they would understand the methods used so that may change.  They are each doing several lessons a day and Bub has gone through the first book and a half.  I had to make him stop to do science so we could get done today.  I hope to write more positive about this curriculum later in the year.  I went through the first several books myself, too, and they are kind of fun!
Taping the sections of the Crystal Palace together.
Ready for a great weekend!  We are headed out to do physical education, which will be running today, so I'm signing off from the best first week of school for LSA to date!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Yes, It's that time of year again!

It is time for school!  Today was our first day of school for the 2015-2016 term.  We've done some school activities for this school year, but officially we are into the books!!
First day of 5th grade!  She was dressed, but cold so she wore her robe at the beginning of the day.
Momma's been exercising bright and early since May, so the kids are not getting that sleepy momma in the mornings and that is such a good thing.  We were up and ready and had chores done by our start time of 8:30 AM.  The kids got new journals and fun snacks!  New books and a new way of getting rewards are always a good starting point!

First Day of 7th Grade!  Sadie (puppy) is too young for school!
Since starting homeschool, I've always had a goal of having things in order so that we could have a real start day.  Then circumstances change or they crack the books before our true start or something.  This year I held off on the early start and we are actually starting when I said we would!  I had a plan, I decorated our classroom, I got little gifts and had all the supplies we needed purchased!
The only hitch this morning was when my son opened his language book and mentioned a book study on Black Beauty.  I had a slight panic because I didn't buy that book.  I opened my book and it is not one he has to read, but one that they use a few excerpts from.  Whew!  I'm sure the library has it and we actually found that we do have a copy of that book.  So my fun son who loves to read asked if it was okay for him to read it even if it isn't assigned.  UH, YES!
What Nutmeg thinks about school!
Not going to make any promises that I will keep this blog up this year because as the year rolls, I get busy living and not typing about it.  :)  Granted, a documented year is always fun to look back at!