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About BetterthanIdeserve

  • Birthday 12/28/1977

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    Scrapbooking, researching curriculum ;)

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  1. I'm looking for resource suggestions to challenge my children in their nonverbal reasoning abilities. They all read above grade level, and typically do history and literature above grade level, but they are all working on level for grammar and math (my 8th grader is doing Algebra and my youngest could possibly bump up a level in math, but he has a hard time sitting still). My kids have all scored high in nonverbal reasoning abilities on the CogAT. My 13yo scored in the 95th percentile, my 10yo scored in the 98th percentile, and my 8yo scored in the 99th percentile. Their composite CogAT scores also ranged 95-99th percentile as well. We haven't really done anything intentionally for nonverbal reasoning ability, other than briefly trying a Building Thinking Skills workbook (Critical Thinking Co.) for the older two a few years ago. They didn't like it, and we were doing a lot of other things. I haven't really pursued it because it is their strength, but now I'm wondering if I ought to offer them some challenges in this area. They do Tapestry of Grace, Rod & Staff English, Math in Focus: A Singapore Approach (the oldest is using Jacob's Algebra this year), and Apologia Science. My oldest has read The Fallacy Detective and loved it. I feel like their workload is pretty heavy and I'm hesitant to add more to their daily work during the school year, unless I can keep it fairly short. My middle child over focuses on the number of things he has to do each day (even though he gets done the quickest), so I'm thinking about just focusing on it for the summer or alternate doing it with his spelling (he'll probably finish All About Spelling in the middle of 6th grade). Do you have any recommendations? Do I just find something and work above grade level?
  2. WWE2 was a better fit for my kiddos at 3rd grade. Have you looked at SWB's updated recommendations for WWE? She has some alternate schedules for WWE.
  3. It seems our schedule looks a bit different each year. I used to always start with math first, because my oldest could do math so much faster if she did it first thing in the morning. We would take a mid-morning break and then I would do Morning Time...sometimes. If we started late or someone needed more time or energy than I had (or my daughter didn't want to break until she was finished with a subject), we would skip Morning Time. I was having so many issues with my "high needs" child that it got to where Morning Time rarely happened. Yet the kids were asking for it, and my high needs kid said he would have a better attitude if he could start with history, his favorite subject. So, we now start with Morning Time, and we get to our read-alouds! There is definitely more delight in our day. I just make sure to keep the dog kenneled so that he is not a distraction and my boys have something to do with their hands. My oldest doesn't need to start with math any longer, and my high needs kid can go do whatever he wants for school for the first hour. He does have a much better attitude. I used to have my youngest start independent work as well, but then there were too many demands on my attention during the last half of the morning, and we were all frustrated. I now spend the first hour after Morning Time with my youngest, but sometimes that is a bit too long for him. As soon as we're done, the younger two and I take a morning break of about 20 minutes. Sometimes they get a 10 minute break to themselves, and then we go for a two mile walk. After that I work with my my high needs kiddo. If we had not gone for a morning walk yet, I almost always end up taking him out for a walk just the two of us, because he gets frustrated easily and then his brain shuts down. The exercise makes a big difference (I find I need it as much as he does). I work with him off and on for an hour. Usually by then, we're getting close to lunch time. I check in with my 13yo, and then we take lunch and recess. I'm learning I must take a true break, not just a break from school, but a break from chores as well. My introverted self is much more patient if I have taken at least 20 minutes to myself. After we've taken 40-60 minutes for lunch we get back to school. My 8yo has usually gotten distracted while I worked with my 10yo, so I keep an eye on him while he finishes school. My 10yo is usually done or has less than 30 minutes to do after lunch. It seems that they both need another one-on-one of 15-20 minutes after lunch. After they are done, I usually spend some time with my 13yo. I like most of the curriculum that we are using, but a lot of it is teacher-intensive. I am seriously considering dropping Rod & Staff English for my high needs kiddo, and finding something that has a lot more examples built in the student's book, so that he can do English on his own. I think I will make even more changes next year for him.
  4. Five in a Row Tapestry of Grace - I love Tapestry, but it is so easy for it to become too much. I keep telling myself, we have to say no to good things to make it work. I do a good job with keeping it light for my younger kids, but I have to tweak each week for my 13yo so that it is not too much. We have some great dinner time conversations as a family, and I feel like I've learned so much. I love to encourage others to look at Tapestry, but strongly caution them to remember it is a buffet and not try to do it all. I use SOTW as the spine for my youngest. I appreciate how easy it is to work with kids at different levels and work at their strengths. IEW's Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization. I love this, but memorization for my 2nd child has been such a frustrating experience that we stopped. I'm considering jumping back in with my oldest.
  5. I think you're right, the age gap is part of the problem.She resented being with her brothers, and she would also would rather just get her other school subjects done. After talking with the kids individually, I found out the boys are looking forward to using the nature journals but were picking up on their sister's bad attitude. And my daughter, who's had some drawing lessons, would still prefer "how to" lessons rather than drawing on her own.
  6. One of my goals this year was to more intentional in observing nature with my kiddos. At the same time, I wanted to work more on drawing skills for my kiddos. I thought nature journaling was a great way to combine this. I bought The Nature Connection: An Outdoor Workbook by Clare Walker Leslie for each of my kiddos. Don't let "workbook" throw you; it's like a guided nature journal with information and inspiration for drawing (my kids definitely need the sketching help). My 13yo is reluctant to do most thing right now, and it seems like her eight and ten year old brothers are picking up on that. The boys were excited when the journals arrived, but after going out with a resistant older sister, they are now reluctant. I am so frustrated, I feel like giving up. I thought this was going to be fun! I thought they would enjoy an excuse to get out of the house and go do something different. In addition, my 10yo requires a lot of my mental energy right now, and I thought we would benefit from more time outside. We live in the suburbs, but spend 2-4 afternoons a month on 40 acres at my parents' property. We regularly walk on a trail near our home, and occasionally visit a nature center nearby. Several years ago we took sketchbooks with us occasionally on nature walks, and my daughter especially enjoyed the experience. I actually thought she would be the one to enjoy this the most. Have any of you started nature journals with older kids? Do you have success stories to share? Do I just give up on combining the two? One option is to still go on nature walks with a camera and focus on drawing skills separately, but I'm afraid that may require more mental energy and more time. Art classes aren't in the budget for this year.
  7. I was only in Philly for a couple of nights last month, but we enjoyed getting phosphates at Franklin Fountain in the historic district.
  8. If you want your kid to work independently, they won't match up.
  9. We have taken two trips to New England in the last year. Last summer we spent 9 days in Washington, D.C., and I honestly wished for another week to see more sights. Definitely do your research to figure out what you (and your kids) want to focus on. My favorite Smithsonian is the National Museum of American History, but three hours there may be plenty depending on the ages of your kids. One recommendation I have is to walk with the kids a lot before you go. I think we averaged 8 miles of walking the first several days of our trip. We used public transportation for the first half our trip. Frequent snacks and cold drinks helped our kiddos make it through our major sight seeing days in the summer heat. The last four days of our trip, my husband was at a conference, so I scaled back to 4-5 hours of sight seeing. We would go out in the morning, come back to the hotel for the hot afternoons, and then go out again in the evenings with my husband. One of my highlights was visiting the White House, but it was scheduled (I think we gave the four dates that my husband was available, and they chose the first morning we were there) for 7:15 our first morning and with the time difference it was like getting up at 4:00 am for my kids. So, they didn't enjoy the experience as much. Bummer! This summer we did 10 states in 10 days in New England. Crazy ambitious but an amazing experience. The Boston Freedom Trail, a NYC harbor cruise that included the Statue of Liberty, and Philadelphia over Independence Day were our major historical visits. I hadn't anticipated Philadelphia being a major highlight of the trip, but the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and Benjamin Franklin museum on the 4th was such a fun experience. We got a Declaration of Independence printed on a replica printing press there that made a fun souvenir for the kids. Speaking of fun souvenirs, there is a line of pencil sharpeners shaped like significant historical items, such as a printing press, the Liberty Bell, a cannon from the Old Ironsides, and the USS Nautilus. My boys enjoyed collecting these. I would have also like to visit the American Revolution museum there, but we didn't make it. You should also check out Elfreth's Alley, the oldest residential street in America. It's in the historical district and free. Not much to it, but I enjoyed it. Again, cold treats came to the rescue on a hot summer day. So consider visiting the Franklin Fountain ice cream parlor in the historic district - I liked their phosphates! We had considered visiting Fort Ticonderoga when we were in upstate in NY, but chose not to - mainly because of an unexpected expense the day before. I'm sure you're already aware of this, but traveling in New England is noticeably more expensive than traveling in the Midwest! We knew that, but I still cringed at the costs of hotels and food in the cities, especially at Niagara Falls (but so cool). We chose to camp four of our nights this last vacation to save money. Camping in the Adirondacks, NY, the White Mountains in NH, and on a beach in Maine was so much fun (if you're a camper, look into Hermit Island campground), even with all the rain we got. I had never flown and camped before, but my family of five got all our camping gear in two large duffel bags plus one tent bag. One of the unexpected blessing from the trip (especially related to camping) was my kids finding things for which to be grateful when things didn't go exactly as planned. Our goal is to visit the 48 contiguous states before my 13yo graduates from high school. She's up to 25 states, I believe. Hawaii and Alaska would be great too, but I told the kids, they may have to pay for that themselves. ? I hope you have some wonderful experiences!
  10. Jacob's Algebras has extra credit questions in the daily assignments (Set IV) and on the tests, but I don't see any suggestion on how many points to assign. What do you think would be a reasonable amount (percentage of the total?) to offer for extra credit?. The daily assignments seem to have about 45 questions with 1-3 extra credit questions and the tests run from 20 to 50 questions with 1 extra credit question. How do other math programs handle this?
  11. My 13 yo is becoming more and more of a night owl. Last night we had her history discussion for Tapestry of Grace at 10:00pm! She liked it so much, I may plan to take her out on Thursday evenings (but not quite so late) to the cafe area of a nearby grocery store (=cheap drinks and it's usually quiet). We can get in a couple of her discussions for the week and go through her planner together. I find I need to check in with her on Thursdays because she often thinks she has done everything for the week, but something has almost always gotten missed. Friday is intentionally a light day, so that we can finish everything up. I hope that improves this year, but she can struggle with details. Last year, I devoted a large block of time time with her on Friday mornings. I also spend about 30 minutes with her at the very beginning of the week as she fills out her planner.
  12. How frequently do you have your middle school students do lab reports? I'm thinking I did them rarely, if at all in middle school. I remember doing some in high school, but I'm a little hazy on how many. As a Chemistry major in college, I did them every week. If you have used Apologia, how often did you have your kids do complete lab reports? What do they do in public school these days? My daughter been taking Apologia science classes at an enrichment center two times a week for the last few years. This is the first time that she'll be doing science completely at home. I'm not a huge Apologia fan, but she loves the curriculum and requested that she use their Physical Science curriculum this year. For fun, she has also asked to read the Master Books Applied Engineering books (so no written work for Applied Engineering or the digging deeper research questions - the reading takes her about five minutes a day). I may cut some of the Apologia work in 2nd semester to work in Applied Engineering activities, but for now I'm trying to decide how many lab reports I should have her complete. There were three labs the first week, and after coaching her to fill out three lab reports, that seems like a bit much. It looks like there are about 50 experiments for the whole year for Physical Science. She loves science (and has expressed some interest in pursuing engineering), but doesn't love the lab reports. Who does? ? Someone suggested just doing the purpose, the data, and the conclusion for most of them, and occasionally asking for a full lab report. This person thought it was silly to usually request a hypothesis, because the expected results were given right after the experiment in the text. I do know that my daughter retains information much better if she writes it out, but I want to keep middle school science as fun as possible.
  13. You might look into Master Books science. I know a mama who said it was life changing for her family. The kids enjoyed reading it and it had fewer experiments for her to deal with. We are doing Applied Engineering (7th-9th grade) this year.
  14. Have you looked at Master Books? If she is strong in science, it might be fun to take a year and do something like Applied Engineering or something else that really interests her. It seems that Master Books science can be a bit more independent that some other 8th grade science.
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