Sunday, March 17, 2013

Our Favorite Online Resources

One of the things I love most about homeschooling is that we can incorporate so many resources into our daily learning. My kids LOVE anything technology related. I know a lot of parents regulate the amount of screen time their children have. That is something I don't worry too much about. My kids choose to play outside, build things and do crafts over electronics almost every time. Well, all but one of them (and surprisingly, it's not my oldest), for that one the rules are no screen time if it's light outside. She doesn't have to go outside but she does have to find something productive to do. If I feel like she has been productive enough for a while, I will hand over her's a rare occurrence but it does happen from time to time. My iPad is loaded with educational apps they love to play. There is tons that can be learned from them and I personally don't have any qualms over which way they choose to learn. Book, video, website, workbook, apps, board games, hands on experiments. There are so many ways kids can learn and each one seems to learn from a different method. I do try to give them a decent amount of computer time to use for learning. There are so many amazing websites to teach them just about anything imaginable. I feel that it is very important that they are able to "tech savvy" we live in a wold that functions on technology. By the time they are adults I suspect to succeed you'd better be fluent in technology. There is no better place to learn how to use all forms of technology safely than under the watchful eyes of their parents.
I thought tonight I would share some of my favorite websites with you. Some of them I found recently through a quick google search but most of them we have been using for years. One day in the near future I will comprise a list of my favorite iPad apps. That one is going to take some time though. 
Using the internet connected TV to watch science experiment videos on the Imagination Station website.

Maezy using her LeapPad at Popaw and Nana's house on the mountain. 

Hudsyn, sitting on my lap making me watch her do something on her iPod before we read a story. 

Bella trying to talk Siri into calling her Nana. Judging by the look on her face, it wasn't quite working out as she had planned.

Greysen and Maezy laying on my bedroom floor watching a movie while I folded laundry. They don't usually watch iPad movies (they are usually reserved for outings that last too long), but Greysen was sick, and I wanted to keep a close eye on them.

Tristin and Bell watching a documentary on Netflix off her iPod.

Hudsyn, Tristin and Bella having their after dark computer time. This wasn't necessarily educational. Hudsyn was playing and Bell and Tristin were playing

Here is my list of some of our favorite websites, if any of the links don't work let me know and I will fix them. This one is full of educational videos. There is a free version and a version you can purchase. I think the purchase option on this one is quite high and we've been happy with the free version for years. - online spelling and vocabulary list. You can use the ones they offer or input your own. The paid version on this one is quite affordable and well worth the money to me, again it's used for homeschool purposes in our house. Before we were homeschooling we always used the free version and it suited all of our needs. - An early reading website. My kids have all used and loved this website. - A website that primarily teaches phonics and decoding skills.  This is a paid website, the price is in my opinion perfectly acceptable. My kids also use the workbooks to go along with this site. - A free educational game website for kids form K-5. - A learn to read paid website. My kids really enjoy this one. - This is a phenomenal website. You can learn just about anything you want to know, including some light computer programming. The best part's free! - All the things you love about National Geographic but online and for kids. They also have a little kids site, which is linked on the kids one. - A wonderful math practice website. This one also offers a free or paid version. - National Gallery of Art for kids. Super fun! - Scholastic's website, lots of great eBook downloads for free and pay. - The AKC's website. We have an extreme dog lover in the house, so this may not be as interesting to other families. - The farmers almanac for kids. Fantastic! - The weather channel online and for kids. - All sorts of great science info on here. - An amazing collection of science experiments and activities. - The Nasa kids website. My Dad introduced us to this one years ago and all the kids love it! - The Library of Congress for kids. - The PBS nature website. - A cooking website for kids. - The greatest achievements of the 20th century. - Basically anything you have ever wondered about you can find an explanation for here.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Snow Fun!

I've kind of been a slacker lately when it comes to taking pictures. Which bums me out because I know one day I will regret not photographing all the sweet moments that I have enjoyed with my kids lately. I am going to try to do one photo post a week to keep myself on the ball and to have a place to look back through all my favorite pictures. I could always go through my pictures on my computer but they are a huge mess. I have nearly 7000 pictures from last year that still need to be organized. Yikes. I will probably get to that soon, as in never.

Tonight I am posting a few pictures from the last good snow we had. We played in the snow and took all of the kids sledding for the first time. Read The Boxcar Children Winter Special, which is three books in one. We made lots of snow flake crafts. Lots. We did a few snow and ice science experiments and tried to enjoy the last good snowfall of the year. Hey, a Michigan girl can dream can't she?

Here are a few pictures mostly of Bell and Hudsyn playing in the snow. Kaitlynne is smarter than most and knows the cold is evil, the babies had already came in and Tristin hates to have his picture taken. Unfortunately I didn't get pictures of the crafts they did while I was reading to them, and they were so cute. See what I mean....I've been slacking. I did actually charge my camera batteries yesterday, so that's a start. :) 




Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Quick-eye Post.....

A couple of months ago we took Tristin to see a new pediatric ophthalmology specialist out of U of M since he has so many problems with his eyes. The specialist was great and was able to determine almost immediately things that our Children's Hospital ophthalmologist couldn't in three years of appointments. He was diagnosed with amblyopia, strabismus and an astigmatism.  He changed his prescription almost completely in his bad eye, and slightly in his other eye which isn't good but is not as bad as the other eye. Sigh. For the first time in his life he isn't complaining about his prescription. It brings this momma such peace knowing that his prescription isn't causing him discomfort. Aside from God healing him or having lasik surgery, vision will always be an issue for him.

For some reason the reality of his vision issues have been really hard for me lately. I have been aware of the severity of his eye issues for some time now, the diagnosis didn't change just his prescription. Before we left the office I asked the doctor if any surgery could be done to correct his eyes and he said no, not until he is an adult and gets lasik surgery. I think that was the first time anyone had been so honest. The other doctors just told us things like only time will tell and we will have to wait and see.

The following day we had an appointment for Greysen. We knew he had some serious eye alignment issues. The Children's ophthalmologist intern couldn't even find any issues with his eyes, which was surprising to us since they go wonky all the time. She had told us we had to wait until he was older to "break him down", whatever that means. The resident came in, the intern gave her take, he took a quick look and said bring him back in a year. We were fairly disappointed since we knew how often he was having issues making his eyes align however, we decided to follow their direction since they were the doctors. When we took him in to see the new eye specialist he was in disbelief that they couldn't find anything. It was just a few seconds before he was able to identify it. He checked his eyes thoroughly and informed us his vision is good but he needs surgery for the hypertropia and strabismus. Looking back I am surprised I didn't panic a little bit but I think I was just so happy someone could fix his eye that without hesitation I quickly agreed. His surgery is on the 19th of this month so just a week away. The doctor is going to do surgery on both eyes at the same time. I am a little nervous, not so much for the surgery, his doctor is highly respected in his field. I am just unsure of how he will feel after the surgery. From what we hear he will be uncomfortable for a couple of weeks after the surgery. Not in any major pain but there will be blood in the eyes and a mucus that will be kind of like pink eye. His eyes may also be itchy. Certainly not the worst thing that could happen, but when it's your little boy it feels scary. I am handing over to God again and again. I probably will have to continue to hand it over until he is all healed up and I hear the report that his eyes are aligning properly.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Girls Room!

In the two years that we've lived here we have tried to no avail to figure out how to fit three little girls into one 7x16 room. When Maezy moved out of her crib it became even more of a challenge. Our plan was to put the three girls in one king sized bed. It worked okay, but they seemed to wake each other up frequently and have a very hard time falling asleep. They only had a very small amount of floor space. For toy storage I had haphazardly thrown a couple of Rubbermaid buckets in there, which always seemed to get dumped while someone was looking for a prized possession. It was a disaster all the time. After many drawing and pinning shared rooms on pintrest we finally came up with a plan. There are a few finishing touches still to be done but I am loving the function of it! Here is our almost finished room...

One of Bella's favorite colors is green, Hudyn's is pink and Maezy's is yellow. We tried to incorporate each girls favorite color in their new room.

Triple bunks are no small feat with 7' ceilings.

Each girl has her own wardrobe for their clothes, since we built their beds where their closet used to be.
They love their new kitchen set!
If you look closely at the curtains you will see the hooks are the shower hooks to go with this sets bathroom collection. The curtain is two shower curtains.
Book shelves. We bought these at Ikea, they are actually spice racks. We painted them the same color as the beds.
They wanted somewhere to hang their art work. They are so happy that it can be displayed.
I love the hanger for their stuffed animals, those seem to multiply constantly, so it's nice to have some storage for them. The owl hooks hold their hooded owl blankets and their aprons for their kitchen.
We used another Ikea spice rack for DVD and Blu-Ray storage. We are going to be adding another one since they seem to need more movies in there than we originally expected.
These drawers hold so much stuff! I wasn't sure if I was going to like them but after trying them out...I love them!

Friday, March 8, 2013

School at Home

People ask me all the time what we do for school. That's a really hard question to answer. Since my oldest is officially starting high school this month I thought I would write a little bit about what our homeschool looks like in this current season.

Hudsyn playing learning games online.

Kait has been thinking for a while about what she would like to do when she graduates. Her hearts desire is to eventually get married, and be a hair dresser/cosmetologist (or whatever the proper term would be), have two children, adopt two from Haiti and homeschool. She would like to do hair from home, have the ability to sew, be able to whip up beautiful birthday cakes for her kids and do a little photography on the side. She is well aware that God may have something else in store for her. She has started making some decisions that keep her on that course but also allow her to pursue things that she has long been interested in.

Kait teaching Bell how to make a body scrub.

For this year, in addition to her regular course work she will be:
listening/watching some iTunes U classes on cosmetology
taking sewing lessons
taking cake decorating classes
taking a consumer math course
taking a light business math course
cooking one dinner and one lunch a week from scratch for eight people - for $15 or less,
learning Haitian-creole here (for an upcoming mission trip she is chomping at the bit to go on)
taking some online photography classes here (compliments of her Gramps), continuing with piano lessons
making more homemade beauty products and natural remedies, I have never seen one person go through as much organic coconut oil and olive oil as she can but I sure love all the products she makes!
I think her favorite things might be going to youth group and working in the kindergarten class every week though.  She loves God and kids! ;)

To me it seems like an overly full schedule but to her it is a joy, they are the things she is passionate about.

Tristin, Bella and Hudsyn doing math

Bella doing math, the math curriculum we use has a DVD teaching for each lesson. Hudsyn playing a math game on the iPad, or pretending she passed out...I can't tell which. ;)

Hudsyn sounding out words on

School for Tristin, Bella and Hudsyn is much less involved at this point. We do math, phonics, spelling and our gratitude journals every day then Tristin and Bella each read to me for about 10-20 minutes each. I would say on average they spend an hour to an hour and a half on book work (math, phonics, spelling and gratitude journals) and then they are free to play. Usually they choose to build with legos or help me cook, I have two that spend a lot of time outside even in winter. We do lots of science experiments and crafts throughout the week, often they are Kait's pintrest finds, something Tristin saw on Myth Busters. At night I read to the kids, usually an hour and a half or so with Tristin, Bell and Hudsyn (Kait too if she finds her way down to my room) we read living history almost always in the form of a chapter book, living science and geography and then a few chapters in a fiction book. After our last chapter book Bella and Hudsyn lay down and I read for another hour...sometimes two to Tristin.

Our chapter book read alouds are:
The Bible - we have several kid versions that we love and we rotate Bible's each night.
Charlottes Web
Along Came A Dog
The Magic School Bus - The Great Shark Escape
Missionary Stories with the Millers
*While they listen to chapter books they can build with legos, lincoln logs, bristle blocks or color. It helps them stay still, quiet and focus.

Our Non-chapter books that we are working our way through:
Leading Little Ones to God
Usborne book of World History
Usborne book of Living Long Ago
Usborne book of Peoples of the World
Usborne First Encyclopedia of the Human Body
Tut's Mummy - Lost and Found
National Geographic Little kids First Big Book of Animals
James Herriot's Treasury for Children
Shel Silverstein - we rotate our favorite books of his
Calvin and Hobbes Treasury

With the babies during the day I read from our favorite children's books (most of the other kids find themselves listening too).  We count everything we can find that can be counted, point out each and every letter we see, they say them then they tell me the sound each letter makes, we sing songs and draw and build and snuggle. Homeschooling isn't right for every family but it's perfect for ours!