February 15, 2010

What a treat!

Our church hosted a spiritually rich concert last night, featuring Keith and Kristyn Getty.

From Ireland, they are pioneers of modern hymns for the world. They have a passion to express scripture and solid theological truths in music, far surpassing the fluffiness in Christian music that's been floating around for awhile.

When I'm in the car or room, I'll play either one of these CDs for an uplifting praise and worship time. In the busyness of my home, their music supplies a lifeline of encouragement and creates a spiritual focal point solely on God and not the chaotic world around me.

My girls enjoyed hearing them, also. They knew many songs already and the concert--complete with an Irish fiddle and a set of pipes--had them dancing jigs in their sleep.

post signature

February 13, 2010

Blizzard of '10

We received over 8 inches of snow--the largest I have ever seen in my life! And the most our state has received since 1973. It is absolutely beautiful!
"Who's woods these are, I think I know...."
Love my Robert Frost scenery.
You see those few flakes? That's called a blizzard, according to my kids.
Yes, I know it started yesterday, but today was glorious! What a treat for Valentine's!
Mabry had to practice snow angels. Seriously, this is the first she has ever made:
My uncle came by to help unstick Matt's work vehicle that slid into a neighbors gate and stayed there. Micah would have preferred to just ride the tractor.
We did lose power for a few hours last night and got the joy of watching the snow gleam in the moonlight. This snowfall has made all of our Little House on the Prairie readings even more memorable.

We also figured out that a whole lot of snow and a little sweetened condensed milk, along with a handful of chocolate chips, makes for a delicious snow cream!

post signature

February 9, 2010

Toddler Tuesday: Jesse Bear

This morning, Micah woke up early. Most of the time I'm good with early, as long as I have coffee and a plan. Today's plan was Jesse Bear by Nancy Carlstrom.

The girls were still sleeping so I could just read to him. Just him and me--it was nice. Micah was quite envious of Jesse Bear's dumptrucks in the sand and hauled out his collection so as not to be outdone by a cartoon bear. He also loved that Jesse Bear sleeps under a blue blanket, just like he does.

I love watching a child find all these tiny details in the pictures books!

When the girls awoke and settled into their school routine, I gave Micah some coloring pages (click on the pages to print your own):

And the energetic Jesse Bear himself:
Now we're playing Hide N Seek with this Jesse Bear Cutout. One of the girls counts with Micah (great way to learn the order of numbers!) and then another girl hides the bear somewhere where Micah can find it: under the couch pillows, in the library basket, behind the tote of music books, etc. He loves finding and saying, "I found you, Jesse Bear!"

Oh, the be 2-years-old again! :D

post signature

February 4, 2010

Spiral vs Mastery Math

This week has been a great homeschool week, which is a relief since last week was a really, really bad one.

As a matter of fact, I almost gave up on homeschooling twins. Last Wednesday, for the 400 bazillionth time, I had to refocus them to finish their math worksheet. We are using a very simple math for them this year, Saxon 3. We spent 1st and 2nd grade working through Horizons Math, but this year I wanted something simpler to help limit distractions.

It didn't work. And 2/3 the way through their 3rd grade year, they still have not learned anything new (thanks to a very thorough Horizons program).

And learning nothing new just bores them. And boredom breeds distractions. And distractions demand a simple black and white program. And simple means they learn nothing. And the cycle continues...

until the lightbulb burst in my brain.:

I have set my darling twins up for failure, requiring from them what they aren't wired to do.

Horizons and Saxon math programs, though well-recommended, are spiral approaches to math mastery. This means that every lesson presents some new information and then reviews all previous material until the kids know how to do math. So over the course of many years, they will practice a little bit of age-appropriate addition, all while practicing a little bit of subtraction, measurement, fractions, etc. until they finally know everything there is to know about these skills.

For some kids (such as my oldest) this approach is perfect. Cayli prefers variety in her math and likes to do a little of this and little of that all while mastering each stage.

The other method of learning math is simply the mastery method. Students focus on one skill for an extended period in order to know it inside and out before moving unto another skill. Some review is given so that all previously acquired skills stay fresh, but for the most part the student only focuses on addition (from single digits to 4-5 digit numbers) before moving on to subtraction or multiplication or division, etc. Sure a little measurement (linear and liquid), telling time and geometry is thrown in the mix, but the focus is on a single concept.

That is precisely how Kenna and Mabry think. Their brains just don't transition between addition and line graphs and fractions and centimeters over the course of a single page of problems. But give them a sheet of 4 digit subtraction problems with regrouping/borrowing and they are set. Allow them a day of review each week of previously mastered concepts and they prove to be some of the smartest kids around.

It's all in the approach.

Mastery math would be curricula by MathUSee or Singapore (and a few others; the names have left me, though). We tried MathUSee early in our homeschool, when Cayli was in 1st grade. She hated working with a single concept. She didn't want to have to prove what she already knew and she didn't want to have to work on a single skill that she thought was difficult over and over. She thrives on variety, not repetition. So spiral math (Saxon) really does work for her.

Mabry and Kenna need the repetition, not variety, to function properly. Transitions are tough for them. Even day-to-day activites require great prep time from me. Once they start on something they don't want to stop even if it's going from a playdate to dance--both are their favorite things to do--but going from one to the other is torture for this weary mom. They need to simply focus on one thing at a time, whether it's time for free play or fraction practice.

There are pros and cons to each way of teaching, but for our family, I'm all for teaching the way they need to succeed.

And math time is more focused for everyone.

Which then frees up some time for me to work with Micah, reading Truckery Rhymes, the best book ever for every toddler/preschool boy:

post signature