31 January 2007

RightStart Geometry

The continuing saga of our adventures using RightStart Geometry and RightStart B. I have an 11yo and a 7yo who have average math ability.The 11yo has done Miquon, Singapore, RightStart Transitions, Level D and Level E; RightStart has saved her from a life a math phobia.

I try to update our adventures on Tuesdays, although sometimes it doesn’t get done until Wednesday. And sometimes we really haven’t done that much math, so I skip it entirely.

RightStart Geometry:

Frankly, little geometry has been done around here lately. We had The Week Everyone but Mommy Was Sick (which stretched into 2 weeks by the time MrV caught The Dread Disease and was hanging around the house). And we had a week of doing other, non-Geometry math stuff.

During The Week Eveyone but Mommy Was Sick, I had time to think about what we’re doing in various subjects, and consider tweaking our programs. I also had time to read emails, particularly from the RightStart yahoo group . Lo and behold, I started reading that we were supposed to be doing Challenge Math concurrently with Geometry. Huh. Somehow I had missed the boat on that! We own Challenge Math, but haven’t done anything with it since we worked through the first chapter last year.

I ended up going to the RightStart website , and browsing around. Looking through the bulletin board , I found all sorts of recommendations -- you can do Level E and Geometry concurrently for an older student (really, several of the lessons repeat ... I don’t think my 11yo would’ve done well with this system, partially because I would’ve found the redundancy annoying for me and confusing for her, but I could see it working well for another family). For younger students you can work through Challenge Math and Geometry. For older students you can work through Geometery, the make sure to complete all the fraction games in the game book. It’s all about customization.

Well. The problem with customization is that the parent (that would be me) actually has to think. Ew. So much easier to use a boxed curriculum and blindly follow it, know what I mean? Or else just copy what someone else says they're doing for their kids (no names mentioned, but there are certain homeschoolers whose blogs I read very carefully, taking notes on what is studied when).

We ended up spending a few days on some of the final fractions lessons in Level E (and also a day playing with the final Moebius strip lesson, cutting up paper strips and looking at various Moebius scarves and baskets I’ve knitted).

When we returned to Geometry Kid1 wistfully remarked, “I really liked doing math together.”

So, I think we’ll be going between Geometry and Challenge Math. Who knows, maybe we’ll throw in some Singapore math.

By the way, I also found an errata page for the Geometry book, which I printed off. I then promptly lost track of where I found it, so no link. It was fun reading through and saying, “Hey! I remember that problem! And how we figured out it was wrong!”

Lesson 91 Finding the Center of Rotation

On the worksheet the student is to figure out what circle the oject should rotate around, then draw the images of the object. Kid1 claims the last problem is impossible because not enough information is given. I suggest she just give it a whirl with whatever seems likely: “Why don’t you try rotating point R over to point T?” The downside is that she could possibly do a bunch of work and not have it come out perfectly the answer, then (heaven forbid!) have to re-do her work taking into account her new knowledge. She really, really does not want to do this -- doesn’t want to explore until she come up with the right answer. She wants to do this quickly and get it over with.

With a heavy sigh she tries rotating point R to point T ... it comes out okay. Whew! I feel like we’ve dodged a bullet.

By the way, this lesson used the mmArc Compass. I finally got around to getting one at Hobby Lobby, using my 40% off coupon (really, though, it only costs a couple of dollars).

Lesson 92 More Double Reflections

It’s been awhile since we’ve had a fit about math -- the sort of day where the pencil is hurled across the room, the paper is grabbed in that I’m-about-to-rip-this-to-shreds manner, the choked sobs of , “this is impossible; I hate this” are heard.

I suggest stopping and coming back to it later. Go play the piano. Then come back to it ... today, or maybe tomorrow. Maybe it will make more sense then.

And the next day it does make more sense.

29 January 2007

What we're up to these days

Current read alouds are Little Town at the Crossroads(yes, we continue our journey through all generations of Little House) and Wind in the Willows.

Kid2 continues to listen to The Easy French, and is now in the second semester of the program. We haven't been doing much written work in it, since her ability to read and write in English took precedence. So this is mostly a listen-and-speak program for us.

Kid1 decided to learn Spanish, and has been using Rosetta Stone homeschool edition to accomplish this. I have little to do with this except to pass by and comment, "When they're saying 'se esta cepillando' she's doing it to her own head, and when they say 'esta cepillando' with no 'se' she's doing it to the little girl's head." We like that the homeschool edition figures out what to do when, and even has her use the parts she wouldn't normally choose for herself.

For spelling Kid1 is using Spelling Power, and is now at level G. The longer we use it the more underwhelmed I am by it, but I am learning to keep my mouth closed about it. I think she wants to slog through the whole thing just so she can have a sense of completion.

Math is, of course, RightStart, Geometry for Kid1, Level B for Kid2. Somtimes we go off on other tangents, of course, reading other books about math or otherwise taking a break from the curriculum. Kid1 is at lesson 92 in Geometry, and Kid2 is at about lesson 42 in Level B.

Kid2 is whipping through Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading, and is up to lesson 162. For the most part she can already read everything in the book, although she is occasionally caught up short by a word like "plague".

We follow up on OPGTR with First Language Lessons. We're into introducing the parts of speech (around lesson 50), which I think is stiflingly dull, so we spice things up with ideas from Montessori. I've been meaning to write a post about that ... maybe this week I'll get to it.

We read through Introduction to Classical Studies at lunchtime, and discuss the questions. Kid1 is breathtakingly good at synthesizing the information for the Honors Questions, particularly the Bible topics. On the other hand, no one can ever remember the names of ANY of the Famous Men of Rome, let alone what areas they're currently conquering.

Kid1 is working through Classical Writing Aesop, and has made it up to week 12. But, you know, I feel like it's not quite right for a writing program, so we use quite a bit of Bravewriter alongside (bonus: many Bravewriter ideas can be used for a 7 year old, so Kid2 can play along). She also practices on Mavis Beacon typing, the better to type up those CW Aesop essays.

Supposedly they're listening to Jim Weiss read The Story of the World and organizing activites on their own, but that doesn't really happen.

As for Latin, Kid1 has completed MInimus, and is back to slogging through Latina Christiana II, which she despises. Kid2 has started Prima Latina, which she's thrilled with. The Latin portion of our day desperately needs a revamp. It stinks. It's hard to say, "Oh, we use a Latin-centered curriculum," with a straight face when I know we can't stand the Latin program we're using.

They want to start a block on biology. I'm putting that together now. In the meantime, today's science lesson is making cream into butter.

As for extra lessons out of the house, there's dance twice a week, piano, choir, and swimming. We take walks, and spend time singing most days.

26 January 2007

UFO Resurrection Challenge

I've been in a de-cluttering frenzy all week. As the latest inspiration, I've joined the UFO Resurrection Challenge. I hope to do something with some of these odd little piles of yarn and knitting. I also hope to learn how to spell "resurrection" on the first try, given that I'll be typing the word at least once a month.

January's entry is from the Dulaan sock-making frenzy of last October-Socktoberfest. I made a massive boo-boo in pairing up the yarn and the pattern. So, now you see it:

And now you don't:

I'm not quite sure what to do with this yarn now. It's worsted weight, and I have about 4 ounces. For now it's going in a ziploc and getting stuck down in stashland (also known as "that cedar closet in the basement").

18 January 2007

Discovering How Much Time Being a Homeschool Mom Takes

Since everyone is sick I've had a chance to do other things.

Obviously, I've made about a thousand cups of chamomile tea, another thousand cups of kudzu-apple juice (recipe in this book ; I love this book, and sometimes fantasize that the author is my mom and will come take care of me when I'm sick), wrung out cool cloths to put on hot foreheads, fetched more pillows, and read books aloud (although at a certain point yesterday the vote was to just flip the television on to Star Trek reruns).

And cleaned the house, even taking the shower doors apart to get that little place you can't get to otherwise. And dragged the fallen tree limbs from the ice storm out to the street for pickup (we had a pine tree that lost about half its limbs; I never realized how big pine tree branches could get until I was wrestling them out of the dirt and ice where they'd impaled themselves).

But I've also received the latest issue of Ottobre , and picked out something I can make for Kid2 out of pink velour.

And needlefelted little snowball babies (thinble added for size comparison):

And made curtains for a child whose idea of "beautiful" means it's pink and it involves Hello Kitty:

And read tons of crafty blogs, to the point that I've recklessly signed up for Project Spectrum 2.0 , apparently believing that I always have this much time on my hands to sit around and think of interesting things to do.

(It has helped that no one has felt like eating, so the whole fixing-food-washing-up business has also been pretty much nonexistant. MrV is in Mexico, so he's not here expecting meals either.)

Today's plan is to scrub floors, sew cute little outfits for Waldorf dolls, and think of more books to request from the library. Today's reality will probably be much different. It always is.

17 January 2007

Mysterious Illness Sweeps Through School; All Classes Cancelled

Administrators Fear Teaching Staff May Be Next to Fall Ill

Yes, there are still sick people here. Kid2 is on the mend, but Kid1 is still wrapped in blankets with a fever.

Have you ever told people that your homeschooled kids are sick, and gotten a, "gee, I wonder where they caught it?" with a strong hint of unspoken, "since you keep them isolated from the rest of the world," hanging there in the air?

So far this week we have missed homeschool day at the Science Museum, dance class, homeschool day at Skyzone , a dance class they had received an invitation to try, and a piano lesson. I was starting to get a touch of cabin fever from all of this at-home time, but I think I might be coming down with some stomach thingy, so I'm sort of looking forward to spending today at home.

We had stocked up on books over the past couple of weeks, so if you need us we'll be cuddled up on the couch reading.

RightStart Geometry

The continuing saga of our adventures using RightStart Geometry and RightStart B. I have an 11yo and a 7yo who have average math ability.The 11yo has done Miquon, Singapore, RightStart Transitions, Level D and Level E; RightStart has saved her from a life a math phobia.

On Tuesdays I upload an update of what we did in math for the week.

RightStart Geometry:

Lesson 85 making Wheel Designs

As it says in the book, this is similar to Lesson 114 in Level E. Kid1 noticed some nuance of variation.

Lesson 86 Identifying Relfections and Rotations

We are hitting a segment of lessons which are done quietly, with a simple, “well, that was easy,” as the books are reshelved. Really, I don’t have much to say except that they’re easy. If math is a struggle, look to this segment as a breather.

Lesson 87 Translations

“Translation is the mathematical name for slide.” Still in the easy segment, folks.

Lesson 88 Transformations

The worksheet reminds me of something out of a book of drawing lessons, but Kid1 comments that if it were drawing the figures would be slightly flattened (due to perspective and vanishing points, although she doesn’t use those words).

The materials list leaves out a couple of items the student will need. Other than than, very straight forward.

Lesson 89 Double Reflections

The only reason she isn’t flying through these lessons is that she’s taken to reading comic books on the side while she’s working them.

Lesson 90 Finding the Line of Reflection

Worksheet question: “Connect each point of the triangle with its corresponding image using a dotted line. Then construct the perpendicular bisector of each line. What do you observe?” Answer I find written on worksheet: “That this is a lot easier and more fun than I thought it would be.” Verbal comment: “It’s so obvious that it’s going to be the line of reflection that it isn’t worth saying that.”

15 January 2007

LIttle House in the Suburbs

We have spent months and months and months reading the Little House books. We've worked our way through from Little House in the Big Woods to These Happy Golden Years in the original series, reading one chapter per day. Then we started in with Laura's great-grandmother, reading all the way through the Martha books, the Charlotte books, and now are in the Caroline books.

So it's no wonder we tend to refer to them often in conversation, and draw parallels between those stories and our own lives. And no great surprise, then, that when the power went out during an ice storm one night and we suddenly found ourselves with only the light of the fireplace (having lit a fire earlier in the evening) I exclaimed, "Hey, this is like when Caroline and Henry-O came down the stairs to see what her mom and Joseph were doing -- remember how they talked about the firelight and candlelight when they opened the door to the stranger? This is how much light they had!"

We gathered up blankets and tacked sheets over the entrances to the room to help preserve the warmth within that space. The kids drew pictures and worked on magic tricks. I knit. MrV commented, "Yeah, this really is the way it would've been -- the kids playing something simple, the mom knitting, the dad ...." Well, in our case the dad was griping about the power outage occuring on the one night that the local cable was playing Purdue basketball. And I sort of doubt that the moms in Little House were knitting with bamboo yarn on Addi turbos.

But the power came back on within a couple of hours. We watched the end of the Purdue basketball game, told the girls that they couldn't camp in front of the fireplace overnight and went to bed. The kids were strongly in favor of doing this on a regular basis -- having power-free evenings (although we have no control over the streetlights outside, so it wouldn't be quite so authentic).

As I write our power is flickering again ... I have a child with a temperature over 102F ... another interesting day in store, it seems.

12 January 2007

Knitting Progress

Chickami. Oh, my poor little Chickami.

I started it on Jan. 1st, and whipped through it up to the split for front and back in about a week. I reached the upper edge of the back, where I needed to switch needle size. The needles I needed were upstairs. I was downstairs. I just. couldn't. do. it. I couldn't go up and get them. For 2 days.

(Keep in mind, they were in my bedroom, a room I went in and out of many times per day, and spent hours in each night. The needles weren't even put away -- they were just laying on my dresser. But I couldn't grab them while passing.)

Chickami has been reduced to total guilt-knitting. I'm only finishing it because I know if I don't finish it now I never will. I must finish it before I start something new.

It's a super pattern. I have so little left to do. The Bamboo yarn is wonderful to work with (except for a glitch in the current skein ... I wasn't paying attention, and suddenly realized I was knitting with thread ... I had to tink back several stitches to where it was normal, and cut out the offending few inches from the skein ... Kid2 asked, "Are you going to call them and tell them there was a problem with the yarn?" which hadn't even crossed my mind ... I wonder what would happen if I did).

But this week it's COLD. We spend our outdoors time walking to the pond and poking at the ice with sticks, speculating on the bubbles we see frozen under the smooth surface. We make glowing fires in the fireplace and roast hotdogs and toast marshmallows for supper. It is time for hats and mittens and wool socks and sweaters, not for slinky little bamboo camisoles. Warm weather gear is so ... so ... last week!

10 January 2007

Tuesday Teatime

I was given a copy of Poetry for Young People: Robert Frost during the Fall Fairy swap at MDC this past fall. The book is divided into seasons, with several poems for each. Given that the weather has turned cold and wintery here (we even had some flakes of snow yesterday morning!) this seemed like a perfect time to pull it out and raed some of Frost's winter poetry.

We had hot chocolate with candy canes (yes, Christmas remnants) along with Candy Cane Jo-Jo cookies from Trader Joe's (also Christmas remnants). (It occurs to me that our candle was even a remnant -- the stub of our Advent candle . Hah.)

I read through the winter selections: Now Close the Windows, Wind and Window Flower, A Patch of Old Snow, Good Hours, The Wood-Pile, Storm Fear. The book has a couple of lines of explanation under each poem -- perhaps setting the mood, perhaps explaining some of Frost's imagery.

After reading the poems we read the introduction, which told about Frost's life. We're currently reading Understood Betsy as one of our many read alouds, and I thought it was fun to see that Frost was writing about the same region that Betsy was set in.

Overall, it was a wonderfully cozy teatime.

09 January 2007

Games for Skip Counting

These are gross motor games to practice some of the skip count sequences. I didn't invent these -- someone else posted them years and years ago, and our family tried and enjoyed them. Every once in a while the subject comes up on a message board and I endeavor to find my old printout or notes or posts from other message boards. I'm putting it here in my blog so I can more easily point to it when I want to tell people about it. I've not kept track of the name of the original writer, and have probably changed them somewhat from their original form anyway.

Walking skip counting

Typically you take this stuff up to a pre selected target number, then backwards to one. The backwards part can get pretty hilarious, as trying to count backwards, remember your skip counting and also doing the correct steps can be a challenge for most ages.

2s: Your’e going to march single file or 2-by-2. Everyone starts on the same foot. You count the steps, whispering the odd numbers and shouting out and stomping the evens. So, step left/whisper “one”, stomp right/shout “two”; left/”whisper”three”, right/shout”four”, etc. all the way up to whatever number you choose (2 times 12 -- 24 -- is nice) then back down to 1.

3s: Simple version would be to step-step-LEAP while counting the steps. So, right-1, left-2, big huge step or jump-3.

OR (lots of fun, but more complex -- crosses the midline!) use a long line on the floor (the original suggestion used a curb on a street, but obviously that’s not going to work in a house). All of the multiples of 3 will be stepped to the LEFT of this line, all of the rest of the numbers will be stepped to the right of the line (but sometimes it will be the right foot stepping to the left, and sometimes it will be the left foot stepping to the left!) (Trust me, it’s really fun.) Stand to the right of the line, single file. Step left-one , right-2, now cross left foot over to step to the left of the line while counting 3, then back over to the right side of the line for right-4, left- 5, now cross over to the left side of the line again for right-6 (in other words you’re crossing your right leg in front of your left), then back to the right for left-7, right-8, left foot steps to the left of line for left-9, etc. etc. all the way up to your target number (perhaps 3 time 12 -- 36) and then back down to 1.

4s: Can revisit the 2s, but whisper all the numbers that aren’t 4s (so every other even will be whispered).

OR, step left-1, right-2, left-3, then step BACK on right while shouting 4; left-5, right-6, left-7, then step BACK on right while shouting 8; etc. up to target number and back down to 1. Either of these could be walked in columns of 4 across to add to the 4ness of the experience.

Bean bags

You’ll be using one beanbag per person. Beanbags are handed to the person next to you on the skip count number (that is, if you’re doing 2s you’ll be handing a beanbag to someone else on every multiple of 2). As the beanbags are handed from one person to the next, it is the respoinsibility of the “giver” to make sure the “receiver” gets it safely and securely. Each person is both “giver” and “receiver”, but this rule helps establish that we don’t carelessly hurl them at the next person while concentrating on getting our next beanbag. At home we generally do these seated on the floor, which cuts down on the height issues as well as the general rowdiness.

Remember to count backwards for each sequence, too.

If you don’t have enough beanbags, how about Beanie Babies?

2s: The beanbags are going to steadily journey around the circle to the right. Start with beanbag in your left hand. Whisper “one” as you transfer it to your right hand. Say “two” loudly while handing it into the left hand of the person to your right (at the same time, the person to your left will be placing a beanbag in your left hand). Now everyone again has a bag in their left hand.

By the way, it’s possible for 2 people to do this (or any of these beanbag sequences) facing each other. On “two” each would cross over to place in the partner’s left hand.

3s: The beanbags are going to move back and forth. Start with beanbag in your left hand. On “one” transfer to your right hand. On “two” transfer back to your left hand. On “three” hand into the right hand of the person to your left, while receiving into your right hand. Now everyone has a bag in their right hand. On “four” transfer to your left hand. On “five” transfer to your right hand. On “six” hand to person on your right while receiving your original beanbag into your left hand. Now you’re back where you started, ready to repeat the sequence with 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.

5s: Start with beanbag in your right hand. On “one” touch your left knee with beanbag, on “two” touch your right knee, “three” touch your left shoulder, “four” touch your right shoulder, “five” hand to person on your right. Now you have a beanbag in your left hand. You’re going to mirror what you did before: on “six” touch your right knee, “seven” touch your left knee, “eight” touch your right shoulder, “nine” touch your left shoulder, “ten” hand to the person on your left.

6s: Variation of 5s -- with beanbag in right hand touch left knee-1, right knee-2, left shoulder-3, right shoulder-4, transfer to your left hand-5, hand to person on your left-6. The beanbag is in your right hand, so simply repeat sequence.

08 January 2007

Weekend Wrap-up


ChicKami was not finished in time for Saturday's evening out. This turned out to be okay, as I put the rest of the outfit together and the whole thing turned out to be a massive Fashion Mistake. So, just as well I didn't try heroic efforts to get it done. I will continue on it at an enjoyable pace -- it really is a simple, fun knit.


I spent Saturday signing up for January's local homeschooling events. All of the cool stuff falls in a one week period; the rest of the month is void of interest for us. Perhaps this is a signal to start a 3 weeks on/1 week off schedule. Eh.

05 January 2007

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas

The Christmas tree is out at the curb.

The house has been pretty much de-Christmased, except for the manger scene. I've noticed that the Wise Men are crouched behind the stable; I keep imagining them jumping out tomorrow yelling "SURPRISE!"


Much post-holiday knitting has been going on, but the most significant has been work on a Chickami in black Bamboo. I started this on New Year's Eve, sort of (mostly I was busy being exhausted from the trip home from Indiana, the unloading of the van -- in addition to all of the Christmas presents we had also gained a complete set of the works of Sir Walter Scott, and also the Harvard Classics Five-Foot Shelf of Books, not to mention some multi-volume history set, all of which have been in the family nearly a hundred years ... my brother took the complete sets of Kipling and Stevenson, which somewhat bothered MrV, although I haven't a clue what the heck we're going to do with all of these boxes of book anyway [other than start reading Ivanhoe sometime soon, since that's why Kid1 wanted to get the Scott books -- she likes the bit in the Charlotte-years Little House books where they read Ivanhoe in the evenings] so why we needed even more is beyond me -- and a quick trip to the grocery; we barely stayed awake for our New Year's toast taken at the appropriate moment for some time zone east of here). I have been plugging along all week, and have about reached the point where I split for the front and back (it's worked in the round up to the armholes). I had fleeting fantasies about wearing this Saturday night, but those dreams are fading before my eyes. It's easy, mindless knitting, the sort you can do while reading a book or walking around, but even the easiest knitting is impossible while packing up the Christmas dishes or mopping the floor. Plus, Im not sure how accurate my guage swatch was, what with being goony with exhaustion, so I really need to go try it on before I get much further.


We started gearing down back at Thanksgiving, and went into total sloth-mode during the past couple of weeks. Dance class started back up this week, as did our read alouds (we've made it up to the Caroline years in Little House; although Kid1 commented yesterday that she doesn't like the writing as well as Melissa Wiley's in the Martha years and the Charlotte years; I replied that maybe we should give it more that 4 chapters before we make such judgments) (although, really, I had been thinking that myself). We're also reading Understood Betsy, and MrV is reading In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson for bedtime reading, the latter being the current selection for Bravewriter's Arrow, which I am So Glad I subscribed to this year (more on that in a future post).

And Thank You cards, which I count as educational. Kid2's involve copywork (we discuss what to say, and I write it out for her to copy), they draw pictures on the front (we use blank cards -- not for us those printed Thank You cards from the store, oh no! we're after the total thank-you-experience here!).

Kid1 even did a lesson of math, which is truly amazing when you consider that she received a copy of Eldest for Christmas which is sucking up most of her time.

We discussed what new things they might want to do, things that we hadn't done in the fall. Kid1 wants to head into biology, or maybe zoology, or maybe life science ... "what would I need to study if I wanted to become a veterinarian?" So I've ordered various and sundry books on the topic. And Kid2 wants to do spelling, although now she's decided she wants to complete her phonics book first (Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading; honestly, she can read everything in it, including the scripts for the teacher, but she craves the sense of completion, I guess). During our old-book bonanza she found an ancient, tattered McCall's Speller which she snatched up as her prize, and dragged around the house for several days reading.


No resolutions to report, although perhaps a resolution to not use quite so many parentheses in my writing would've been appropriate. I have vague ideas of things I want to accomplish over the next few months (clear out a bunch of junk in the basement, get more bookshelves, sew a bunch of stuff) but nothing that seems very resolutionish. I had meant to think about joining in on the Project 365 , but forgot to think about it (mostly I wanted to think about what the heck I would do with all of those photos since I don't scrapbook or otherwise organize all of the photos we currently take anyway), and now I'm already 5 days behind. Which means it was a New Year's resolution that was broken before it was even made, depending on what you consider the deadline for New Year's resolutions. Is there a deadline?