Saturday, January 12, 2013

What works for us...Math

Week 2 topic: Discovering Patterns: Mathematics, Logic, and Science

Shortly after Miss K began soaring ahead in Reading , she became aware that Math did not come to her so easily. The novelty of the new curriculum in first grade wore off very quickly. We knew she needed something else but we were locked into the schedule of the virtual curriculum. In the end we supplemented with Saxon and vowed to find something better this year.

After some research we settled on Math in Focus (MIF) by Singapore math.  Each lesson has a guided practice section we do together and a lesson in the workbook. Our only issue was that it does introduce Multiplication and division fairly early on. Sensing we would need to revise a bit on skip counting and addition facts. I decided to bypass it and come back to it later in the year.

To be honest, I am a bit sneaky with Math. I discovered that as long as it doesn't 'look' like math, Miss K does not consider it an additional math lesson. Today was a good example. We use workboxes. The picture is from the first week of school in June (two apartments ago...did I mention we move a lot?)

Box 1: LA book
Box 2: Math lesson from the MIF text. 
Box 3:Spelling.
Box 4:MIF workbook pages for today's lesson
Box 5:Test prep practice (3 questions LA, 3 questions Math)
Box 6: Science Unit study (Currently Ocean)
Box 7: Time/clock activity
Box 8: Call to faith
Box 9: Color by number +/- facts pages (From enchanted homeschooling -awesome!)
Box 10: Reading
Box 11 math
Box 12: Boggle

Miss K had 5 'Math' workboxes, but the only groans about Math were when she was about to start with MIF. The groans on the Miss K scale were also only about a 2 (compared to 9 or 10s we were getting last year with the virtual curriculum). If we did 5 lessons of math from the textbook I could only imagine the response.

I have also tried to incorporate a Hands on Math activity each day that Miss K and Mini Piwi (3) can both work on.

Math happens all around us and I wanted Miss K to understand the importance of knowing how it works. She also needed to be able to see that it could be fun. If there isn't a project we can do to explain something then I usually end up doing an impromptu 'puppet show' using what ever toys I reach first. Yesterday, I had a (plastic) crab and a lobster explaining to Miss K about a mental math technique. If she's laughing, she's not getting frustrated and wanting to give up. It also kept Mini Piwi entertained.

I might sound relaxed about math. However, it is something that has had me praying for help and guidance. It is hard for any Mama to watch their child struggle with something. The 'I hate Math' comment still happens but we hear it less. When it does, I consider it a sign that we need to slow down and get ready to bring out the talking lobsters.

Check out all the other VCF posts on this week's topic: Math & Science

Delight Directed Middle School Science? by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
The Hardest Part of Math by Kristi @ The Potter's Hand Academy
A Tour Through Our Math and Science Life by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool What Works for Us…Math by Piwi Mum @ Learning & Growing the Piwi Way Math Art – Geometry by Julie @ Highhill Education It's Math-magical by Missouri Mama @ Ozark Ramblings Virtual Curriculum Fair: Fun and Games with Math by Tonia @ The Sunny Patch Discovering Patterns by Lisa @ The Golden Grasses Math for the Natural by Erin @ Delighting in His Richness Virtual Curriculum Fair~ Discovering Patterns by Karyn @ Teach Beside Me Too Many Math Programs or Not by Linda B @ Homeschooling6 Virtual Curriculum Fair:  Math and More!  by April @ Coffee, Cobwebs, and Curriculum The post where I admit I was wrong by Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset High School Math - Beyond the Textbook by TechWife @ A Playground of Words Discovering a World of Logic and Order by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory 2013 Virtual Curriculum Fair- Discovering Patterns: Mathematics, Logic, and Science by Leah C @ As We Walk Along the Road
The Plans of Mice and Math (My Math in Focus review) by Chelli @ The Planted Trees
Rightstart Math is right for us! by Leann  @ Montessori Tidbits
Our Favorite Homeschool Math Curriculums by Wendy @ Homeschooling Blessings

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Letter of the week: O

We spent our Christmas vacation at the beach, the Piwi's enjoying beachcombing for shells. Seeing the ocean made me homesick for New Zealand. Where I grew up the beach in this weeks button (above) was just minutes away.
Up until now, Mini Piwi was all about glue, scissors, paint and glitter. She would insist all projects needed  to be cut out & glued onto another piece of paper. Monday and Tuesday we read books  and did some O for ocean themed printables from twoteachingmommies

.... made an ocean bag. I posted about all the sensory activities we did for Ocean week here.

As of Wednesday the rules changed (and I didn't get the memo). Mini Piwi told everyone she didn't like books and did not want to do anything with glue. So I pulled out some other activities I had planned...

Mini piwi went 'fishing' in the sink

Played Letter race

Made O is for Oatmeal cookie balls. Mini Piwi likes watching the mixing but not the noise.

Played with the Ocean shapes sensory bin

By Thursday afternoon I was starting to run out of inspiration. Thankfully, the post-lady turned up with our order from The Mailbox. I had purchased several pre laminated Pre k theme sets on sale last week. I quickly cut out some of the cards and Mini Piwi loved the first activity so much she wanted to play it all evening. As usual the packaging it came was also great entertainment. In this case it was sheets of humongous white paper. The crayons got a good workout on that.


As far as the printables and glue go, I'll just leave them in her work boxes and if she wants to grab them they are there. If there was any doubt in our minds, Mini Piwi is 3 now and all that comes with it. She is full of cuteness and curiosity and wanting to do it all correctly, the first time (by herself!).

Resources we used this week:

The Mail box theme kit: Beach & Community helpers (pre laminated)

Big pack of plastic sea creatures

Ocean unit from Two Teaching mommies

Check out our other posts about Ocean week activities:

We joined the fun at
Tot school gathering place@ 1+1+1=1

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Exploring Electricity

Over the last month, we have been working our way through The Magic School Bus - Jumping Into Electricity kit & The Magic School Bus And The Electric Field Trip book

Miss K and I created graphic novel style note booking pages for her to record her observations and results of the electricity experiments. She came up with the ideas, I drew it.

The experiments in the kit were really fun and clearly explained. The guide is laid out a lot like the Magic school bus books. Miss K could follow the instructions and enjoyed reading the explanations and background information.
I like to explain things with models. My models are not conventional. Here we are using plastic fruit to represent the atoms and the green pom pom is the electron jumping from each atom. Apparently Miss K has picked up this trait because when I asked her what she already knew about electricity she pulled out four crayons to show me that it can only flow if the 'circuit wasn't broken'.
This pictures I got were from the Static electricity experiments....
The circuits were a real hit with the Piwi's too! By the time we packed up the Christmas lights (after Three Kings day) Miss K could explain how they worked!
Some other kits we are going to include in our Science curriculum
Polymers & Slime

Exploring Flight

Light science

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

3 Ocean themed Sensory activities

I had read about the purpose of Sensory bins at A purpose driven home. Seemed like a good idea for Mini Piwi so I gave it a go for Advent. It went so well, I was inspired to try again with this week's letter of the week, O (for Ocean). This week we found a pile of sea life books at the library. We chose some with beautiful underwater photos. The one Mini Piwi likes to sit and look at over and over is

Last week we borrowed at least 6 of the scholastic Math themed readers because Mini Piwi was so caught up in them. They turned out to be fun for Miss K too. One of them is
Math in the Kitchen (Scholastic News Nonfiction Readers: Everyday Math). I am a fan of anything that makes Math practical and fun. Anyway...back to Oceans...

This week we had 3 Ocean themed Sensory experiences. I say experiences because only one was a traditional 'bin'.

The Ocean Shape box & Letter racing

Everyone wants to have a look!

was full of connector blocks, counters and pipe cleaners. Hidden it there were the Sea creatures that will be popping up in allsorts of activities this week.

One crazy activity in particular is popular...I have also been hiding them in odd places to surprise the piwi's. If they find one they yell 'O' and everyone races to tag the Letter O we have on the Letter of the week board.

The Mini Ocean squeeze bag

I had some hotel toiletries that were a nice shade of blue. Mini Piwi had a great time squeezing it from the bottles and tubes. She added water and glitter, shells and sea creatures. Apparently it was great fun to make her ocean stormy and waving and then let it settle again.

Sink Ocean

I surprised Mini Piwi with a kitchen sink of warm bubbles and a scoop. Under all the bubbles were plastic stars, fish and crabs. She spent twenty minutes 'fishing' while I cooked dinner and Big sis got to play on the computer without a shadow.

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Letter of the week: M

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