Product Review: Lexia for Home

Full Disclosure: I was a given a free trial of this software to write this review.

Lexia for Home is a software program designed to improve reading for students at all levels, including children with dyslexia and other reading challenges. It is used in many school districts and is also available for use at home in the US and Canada. A 1-year home license costs $174.95 for the first child and $109 for each additional child. The software is web-based, so it can be used on multiple computers and is very easy to install. There is also an app available for iPad use (I did not test out the app).

Once your child first logs-in to the program, they complete a placement test. My 4-year-old tested into the Early Reading program, while my 6-year-old tested into the Primary Reading program. I thought they were both placed accurately. The interface is easy for each child to navigate. (Your child should be comfortable with using a mouse.)

The Early Reading program had 4 different games: (1) finding rhyming words; (2) identifying words with the beginning and ending sounds; (3) segmenting words into syllables and sounds; and (4) blending syllables and sounds into words. The Primary Reading program had 5 different games: (1) segmenting CVC words into sounds; (2) completing words with initial/final consonants; (3) sight word search of irregular preprimer Dolch words; (4) sorting letters and words with b, d, and p; and (5) matching short vowel letters to their sounds. A bar graph displays how many units your child completes per game, and the child progresses at their own pace.

The program states that it is most effective when used for 20 minutes daily. I started enforcing that in the beginning, but did not continue at that pace. I let the children decide how long they played (it was usually for about 10-15 minutes) and we did not use it daily. My kindergartner used the program for longer periods and more often than my preschooler did. Computer time is novel in our home and the games are interesting, so both children always enjoyed playing the games, but some days we just did not have time!

I was specifically interested in trying out the software because my apraxic 6-year-old had been doing well with reading but was still anxious about reading books. After the first session, she was solidified in the sight word, the. M also had been mixing b and d, so the game targeting those skills was helpful. The games are a great way to achieve drill practice without boredom. And now, after a few weeks, M has finally exploded into reading books! I do not know if it is purely coincidence or the fact that along with the software, I gave her many reading games to play, or what, but it is exciting. The other night, I caught her reading in bed to her sister. I’m all for avoiding sleep to read! For my preschooler, she already knew her letter sounds and understood rhyming, but was not ready for reading sounds to form words, so the games have been a great introduction to reading skills. Her favorite game by far was the game that blends sounds into words (I think she liked this game best because as you find the solutions it slowly unlocks a picture).

Most of the time, the children played the games without my supervision (computer time was a great time for me to spend with another child or do housework) so it is an added bonus that you can request progress reports anytime you need them. You submit a report request on the website or via email, and within 24 hours you are emailed detailed reports on skill accuracy and usage.

We’ve had a lot of fun exploring this reading program. If you have a child that could use extra help with reading skills, this may be the program for you! For more information about Lexia for Home, visit their website at http://www.lexiaforhome.com/. Also, please like them on Facebook; when they have received 100 likes they are giving out a set of their 72 Family Readers for free. These readers retail for $149 and covers Kindergarten through 2nd-grade reading levels. Go and like them for a chance to win!

Thank  you, Lexia for Home, for this opportunity!

Homeschool Organization: File Folder Games

I love to organize. This was probably my best quality as an employee in my working years. But since having kids, it seems that there is never time to organize! (And I was always good with time-management too!) Lately there has been an ever-growing pile of random games that I printed from teacherspayteachers.com. I love this site! It’s easily searchable by grade, subject, cost, etc, and there are a lot of free items (I have yet to purchase anything). I’ve found fun math and reading games, and the site offers items in many other areas too (like science and history). (OMG, I just discovered that they have foreign language stuff. Looks like I might be printing off some Spanish resources this weekend!) The girls love to play these games. M is still a bit overwhelmed with reading sentences, so I specifically printed games for beginning reading, working on sight words and simple CVC’s (consonant-vowel-consonant). I would randomly print off a game and give it to a child to play with (if they were interested; they always are).

Anyway, I kept printing games, but never took the time to create a system of organization or storage. So last weekend, I finally got around to organizing them into file folders. I even organized our alligator math game and speech target word cards (I get most of my speech cards from TestyYetTrying, a very awesome blog written by an SLP with an apraxic child…who also is venturing into homeschooling) into folders too.

I had envisioned creating a place for each child to keep a folder or two (such as vertical file folder slots or something) and then “assigning” a few folders to each child and switching them out every week. But I haven’t started this yet, and not sure if I will (at the very least, I’m waiting until we hopefully have more “storage” options in the new home). The girls ask to play these frequently anyway. It has been really handy to have around to occupy one child while I’m doing 1-on-1 schooling with the other child. A lot of the games are also fun games to do when we’re doing speech practice, so bonus! So for right now, the folders live in a box, alongside a few “busy bag” games and our homemade geoboards.

The LipperLoppy Life: File Folder Games

The LipperLoppy Life: File Folder Games

Check out the inside-view of one of the folders below. I glued game boards and instructions to the folders (which also means I could print those out on regular paper instead of cardstock) and taped paper pockets to hold any game pieces or cards.

The LipperLoppy Life

The LipperLoppy Life

What are some of your favorite homeschool organization tips?

Finding the Joy When Overtired

I had grand plans to leave the house early this morning for a hike in millcreek canyon. But with the toddler fussily sleeping last night, AND my husband leaving his alarm on for twenty minutes (while I had the toddler glued to my breast and unable to turn it off), well, I did not get restful sleep. After the girls woke up as usual around 7, I tried to take a little nap to catch up. But today was one of those days when the two eldest girls could Not.Stop.Bickering. I resorted to letting them watch a tv show, but I seriously only found an extra 10 minutes. So I eventually crawled out of bed, and expected the day to SUCK.

But to my surprise, after breakfast, I was feeling pretty good! Maybe it’s the nice spring weather? I wasn’t sure I would be up for hiking, though, so I decided to start with a little speech practice first. C (the 4-year-old) is now taking a speech class through the school district, so both her and M need to practice at home. (Actually, C always wanted to practice speech whenever I was working with M, so it works out well.) Today we played a hide-and-seek game; I just wanted a quick, fun practice session. I hid their target word cards in the dark playhouse, they used a flashlight to find the cards, and then had to practice repetitions of the target words. This activity would work well for practicing sight words, or math equations, or whatever your child might be working on. It’s fun! Sometime I need to do it at night throughout the house (or in a dark basement if we ever have one).

hunting target words for speech practice

hunting target words for speech practice

While one child was doing the speech activity, the other was playing with a flannel board that I recently threw together with stuff laying around the house (I have every intention to make a big flannel board, but decided to just use what I had already for right now). The felt cupcakes were made from this tutorial. The toddler was content to play with an extra flashlight and run around.

making cupcakes on the flannel board

making cupcakes on the flannel board

The girls were still bickering a lot. The girls get along really well and play together so much, but some days, it seriously feels like they just wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Today was one of those days. We needed to get out of dodge. And I was still feeling pretty good, so I decided that we could still make time for a little hiking. Millcreek Canyon is a 3 minute drive from our home (to the first trails, anyway), and on odd-days like today, dogs can be off-leash. (We are so going to miss this natural resource when we move away. We have not found such great dog hiking, so close to home, in the other cities that we have lived in.) We got dressed as quickly as possible, and endured some bickering on the drive there, but the hike was peaceful. Just what we all needed!

Pipeline Trail

Pipeline Trail.

After returning home and eating lunch, M practiced piano. We recently started a practice chart; the goal is to have a weekly lesson (I am the piano teacher) and at least 3 practice times during the week. M puts a sticker on her chart each time she has a lesson and/or practices. She has learned quarter and half notes, and can play a few basic songs, although she isn’t reading the music; the notes are numbered to match her fingers.

piano practice

piano practice

When M was done, C played on the piano and M played some more with the flannel board. I put the toddler down for her nap. Bickering bubbled up again, so after nursing the toddler down, M and I practiced reading while C played. M has been reading the books from the Usborne Very First Reading series. This series has been so helpful for her. M is intimidated with reading a whole book by herself, and the Usborne stories are shared reading with an adult; one page the adult reads and the next page the child reads, etc. As the series continues, the difficulty level increases and there is less adult-reading. At the end of each book are quizzes, and there are extra activities (worksheets and word cards) available online. The set is pricey, but well worth it! Reading is extra difficult for M, because of her apraxia, but she is doing well. I’m starting to wonder if she might be dyslexic (it is common with kids that have apraxia), so that will be something we need to figure out this coming year. When she trips over a word, it’s hard to separate out if it’s because of her speech or if there is an added complication. (By the way, I love my local Usborne consultant, and we get a lot of our educational resource books from Usborne; if you need a consultant, I highly recommend her!)

Usborne My Very First Reading

Usborne My Very First Reading

Then it was time for speech class for M. Of course, we take time to marvel at the daffodils!

always take time to stop and smell the flowers!

always take time to stop and smell the flowers!

When we got home, M finished the big floor safari puzzle she had started just before speech class, and then joined the rest of us outside. I enjoyed working on this post, sipping my iced mocha, and listening to the house finches singing and the children playing. Porter enjoyed the sun too.

blogging outside

blogging outside

And, our day isn’t yet over! We still have to make our homemade BBQ chicken pizza (well, the BBQ sauce isn’t homemade; I need to figure that out!) and the big girls have ice skating class tonight. I’m surprised that I am still going strong, and that the only bickering today has been from the children and NOT me (usually when I’m overtired I find it difficult not to snap). I am looking forward to having the house to myself tonight (with the toddler too) for some quiet relaxation though! I have been so blessed today that we all found the joy!

Our Natural Learning Day…Yesterday

 

I tried my best to get this post written yesterday, as it is about yesterday, but…we all know blogging is not high on the priority list!

So, yesterday was full of natural learning exploration. The day had a lazy start; the toddler has had nights recently with an hour of nursing, tossing, kicking and hitting me, and nursing, so I’ve been waking up extra tired, and yesterday was no exception. I almost feel like she’s a newborn with my recent lack of sleep! We needed to go to the grocery store that day, so I asked the girls if they wanted to go in the morning or after speech class, and they chose to go after speech, because they wanted to keep playing that morning. Fine by me, as I got to stay in my pj’s longer and take my time.

We made waffles and spinach-fruit smoothies for breakfast. I love when we can start the day with a filling yummy breakfast! The girls spent most of the morning in free play, some of what I saw was: making a “collection” of animals (according to M, a collection is something that you look at and keep), cushion jumping in the living room,  and doll house play.

The "Animal Collection"

The “Animal Collection”

I will spare you a picture of what my couch looked like when the cushions were removed! Time to vacuum!

I will spare you a picture of what my couch looked like when the cushions were removed! Time to vacuum!

M initiated reading practice. She picked out one of her reading books (I will write a post about these reading books another time) and read some of the book with me. She is getting so excited about her reading ability! C requested that we finish the last country in their culture sticker book (Nigeria) so we did that next.

We ate a yummy lunch of sandwiches, veggies, and fruit, and then had quiet time (toddler nap time). M and C chose to watch a Jeff Corwin animal show. The girls wanted an episode on Western Africa (since we just talked about Nigeria), but instead we found an episode on Nepal. I was only able to watch the end of the show (as I had been nursing the toddler to sleep) so I only caught a bit about elephant midwives (birth and babies is a popular topic in this household, both for the girls and me).

Then we brought a little springtime inside with flower paper roll painting. M discovered that you need to press down on the petal flaps to get a good print. M also decided to add stems and leaves with her fingers, and eventually we got out a few brushes to paint the centers of the flowers. C quickly turned the activity into a tactile one and just spread the paint all over with her hands. How great that must have felt!

Flower Paper Roll Painting

Flower Paper Roll Painting

Then we cleaned up quickly and went to speech. We have both a new graduate student clinician (we get a new one every semester) and a new faculty supervisor, who is the school’s expert on Apraxia. She is trained in Prompt Therapy (only SLP in Utah with Prompt training) and I’m just so excited to finally have her in charge of M’s therapy (previously she had been consulting our supervisor). The classes just started this week, and they are still just collecting language samples and figuring out what they want to target.

After speech we all went to the grocery store, scoring the only 3-child-cart. I had a huge list to get through, so I bribed the kids with a cookie from the bakery. But it was a successful trip (seriously, its the little things, right?)

When we got home, the girls had more free play, including: looking at a Native American book (M noticed that they carried baskets on their heads); art; more reading practice for M (she found CVC words in a chapter book that she could read); looking at more books; and of course, dance time in the living room.

A winter storm was beginning, so I cooked up leftover chili from the freezer and cheddar biscuits for dinner. Dad left work too late and got stuck in the storm (his front-wheel drive work truck can not make it up into our neighborhood on the bench of the mountain in snowy weather). He parked his truck pretty far away (about 20 minute walk in the snow), so we drove out to pick him up. He did not want us to get him, worrying about a car sliding into us, but it was a short drive and it meant we would all be home sooner to eat our yummy dinner.
After dinner we played board games, card games, and puzzles before bedtime. I was able to keep up with laundry and dishes, and we all went to bed with every room in the home clean (well except the office which is a disaster right now with moving boxes). The girls have been very helpful lately with keeping things picked up…I think we are finally running a smooth household routine!

Monday, Monday

(Yes, this is a very boring post title, probably for a very boring blog post. I apologize.)

Over the weekend we stayed home and the girls continued to work on a lot of their homeschooling projects: M weaved yarn on her loom; both girls played the spider addition game a few more times; M did apple tree math again; they made Halloween necklaces and a counting autumn leaves book; they played games and did puzzles with Dada; and just simply played a lot too. After having a few busy weekends in a row, I loved having a lazy weekend at home to watch Badger football, go for a quick hike, catch up on housework, and finally get motivated to start making the Halloween costumes. But since the weekend looked very similar to a normal homeschooling day (minus the speech class or field trip), I decided to take it easier today.

  • The morning started off with too much television. Normally the girls will watch up to an hour of tv in the morning, so I can either keep the toddler asleep longer, or just take some time waking up myself. (It will be so nice when I can get 7-8 hrs sleep straight, but I’m far from that stage right now, so waking slowly is how I cope.) But boy did I pay for it later! Whenever I let the girls watch a lot of tv (this morning was 2.5 hours), it seems that M is crabby to her sisters and me throughout the day. I actually put M in her room by the end of the day, so she could have space to compose herself. I usually don’t parent this way, so I was feeling stretched a little thin at this point.
  • Then we went out to the fabric store to get the little bit of fabric I needed to finish the girls’ costumes. M was insistent that we run this errand today, so I can finish them asap.
  • The girls bought some Halloween-colored pipe cleaners for themselves at the fabric store, so they played with those, mostly making bracelets and stuff.
  • I cut up some pipe cleaners and placed them in a plastic bottle so the girls could explore them with the magnet.
  • I also made a pipe cleaner toy for the toddler; gave her some small pipe cleaners and a basket, so she could put them in the holes. I wasn’t sure if she was ready for this or not, but she loved it! She carried it around and played with it for about 20 minutes straight.
  • C worked on her ABC book, this time letters E and F. Each week she looks forward to adding to her book, but today she wasn’t very interested in actually doing much of it, even the coloring.
  • M wrote a letter to her grandma. This is the first letter she’s written that she really wrote sentences that made sense to the person she was writing too (usually M will just randomly mention something about her life; today she chose to ask the grandma questions about her recent trip and then tell her something in her life that was relevant to that trip).
  • M also played the snakes and ladders game, and this time I added words that she’s never read before, and she read them. She is still intimidating about reading a book, though.
  • Both girls did some computer play, but every week that they do this, M always has a little fit at the end, wanting to do more. Perhaps I need to be giving them more access to computer games. C plays games on my phone during speech classes, and both girls play either on the phone or Ipad on the weekends. Anyway, I think giving them more access will wait until after we move (and I can have a computer space designated for them) or after they get their own Ipad.
  • M decided that she was going to marry a princess today, so she spent time making invitations and decorations, and preparing the wedding ceremony and reception (tea and cookies, anyone?). Apparently the ceremony will be starting soon.
  • We all made cookies together. Both girls got to crack an egg. I told each girl to throw the shell in the trash and wash their hands. When C went to throw hers away, she completely crumbled the shell in her hands. This is so typical-C, always seeking those sensory moments out. It made me smile, and I realized this was the first time that I had them throw out their own egg shells, and will be doing that from now on.
  • M and I put together the skeleton puzzle; M was able to do the head and upper body all by herself. This puzzle is challenging, even for me, and I always get stressed out while doing it and fending off toddler and C from destroying it. I always get a little bit snippy, which just makes me feel worse. I guess it’s a good moment for me to work on my mindfulness. Or maybe I need to be doing this puzzle only when the toddler is napping.

I really thought we wouldn’t be doing much today, but it sure seems like we did!

 

Mosaics and Magnets

This morning my facebook feed included a post about Sight Word Mosaics. It looked like an activity both girls would enjoy, so I made some word mosaics for M and a number mosaic for C. For both girls, I let them create the color key, as from previous experience with color-by-numbers/letters, I knew the girls would prefer to choose their own color scheme. After M completed her first mosaic, I increased the level of difficulty by using similar words (eg, pat, pan, man, and mat). She really had to take an extra moment to make sure she was reading the words correctly, but she made no mistakes. M did 3 mosaics and enjoyed it so much that she made one for herself too (using two words: her name and cat).

We also played with our new basic magnet kit. (The girls have been playing with this kit for over a week now, on their own, but today was the first day we worked on it together. We have also been reading a magnet book from the library this past week too.) Today we spent time learning about the North and South poles, that opposite poles attract each other, and what household items are made of iron. We performed a few experiments demonstrating this, and the girls sketched their observations in their science books (well, I sketched and they colored). C added magnetic field lines to her drawing (and people too; she always adds people!) so M drew a horseshoe magnet with magnetic field lines as well.

We went outside this afternoon, and at one point C started to smash the dried sunflower heads (that have been drying on our picnic table) into the deck to release the seeds. It was fabulously fun to see the seeds pop out, and M joined in, while the toddler giggled with glee. We talked about how the scrub jays have been opening the shells to eat the seeds (and maybe squirrels too?) and M mentioned how she can’t wait for roasted pumpkin seeds again this year.

M made a cardinal direction sign by looking at the one on the world map. I love learning moments like these best; when she goes off on her own and does something that I had no idea she was interested in. It is simply magical! (I would have posted a picture of this too, but of course, her name was very prominent on the sign!)

They wanted to perform another play tonight, so they chose to reenact The Lion and The Mouse. We made paper plate masks and picked out Dada’s shirts to use for the costumes. C wanted to be the lion and M was excited to be the mouse (last night, C insisted on playing both leaf parts, so we had to do the play twice; today I explained that there would be just 1 performance and they would stick to their own parts). They did a few dress rehearsals and then performed the play after dinner for Mama and Dada; even the littlest one joined the performance as the owl that scares and chases the mouse (and she looked so cute wearing an owl costume I had made a few Halloweens ago).

Well, those were some of the learning moments that I noticed today. Aside from a stressful dinner prep tonight and the fact that it appears the girls are all coming down with colds it was a wonderful day.

Leaves and Language Arts

This morning we went to a nature storytime at the Swaner Ecocenter in Park City. The girls loved it, and I enjoyed the drive up Parley’s Canyon and into the mountains! They listened to a story about an oak tree, painted a fingerprint autumn tree (very similar to what we did last week at home), sang a song, and made a leaf identification page with leaf stamps. M’s favorite thing was making the leaf identification page and C’s favorite thing was gluing her painted tree to the orange paper frame. I loved the fact that the leader could understand most of what M said (except when M tried to say “chair”). M still isn’t very clear in the least, but it’s a big accomplishment for a stranger to understand most of her speech! Afterwards we ran up to the rooftop viewing deck to take a glance at the wetland before heading back home. What a lovely start to the day!

After lunch, I wanted us to practice identifying tree leaves some more, so I found a tree leaf bingo game for us to play. It was fun, and I’m sure we will be doing this often this autumn!

Still thinking about leaves, we gathered some leaves from our backyard for leaf rubbing.

We read one of our favorite fall stories, The Little Yellow Leaf, and then decided to act it out. The girls dressed up in Daddy’s shirts (one in yellow, the other in red) and pretended to fall off the tree by jumping off the couch.

Today is also our language arts day, so C worked on the letter D for her ABC book (including making this cute D is for Duck craft below, inspired by this blog).

M worked on -at family words for reading/writing. We still play the snakes and ladders board game I mentioned a few weeks ago, adding the word cards each week; M loves this! I also throw in some new words from the word family when we do the game, and she sounds them out perfectly (for example, before the game, we practiced, bat, cat, hat, and mat, but the game included sat and pat). Today I even put together the -an and -at words (like pan and pat) so she could really compare the two and read them. And she put together a phrase with the game word cards (Pat the dog). She is doing well reading most letters, but still has trouble with some letter sounds, like j (and I haven’t started blends with her yet).

Unexpected Discoveries

Well, today did not start out that well. M had a meltdown about her outfit; when she melts down, she yells, kicks me, and calls me mean. And of course, behaving that way makes her feel bad, so she really needs a lot of affection from me after it. Which, I admit, is a little hard, because I just endured being screamed at before even eating my breakfast. But it was short-lived, as it always is, and we went back on with our day, which turned out to be full of discovery.

As we were headed out the door to a friend’s home for a LLL mom-and-tot get-together, we realized that their best friend wouldn’t be there, and that it would be mostly mom-and-tots (no big kids). Yes, we are at that point where, as much as I want to sit and chat with friends, we need to be doing things entertaining for the kids, not me.

But, no worries, we just changed plans. M had been asking to go to the Natural History Museum again, so off we went. (I’m glad the girls do well with changes and transitions, it really was no big deal. Though they did have to discuss first if the zoo would be a better choice, but both agreed to go see the dinosaurs today.)

It’s amazing how much there is to do at a museum. We’ve been to this particular one probably about every other month or so (more in the winter months), and always come home with more knowledge and discoveries. It has a lot of great exploration rooms too, so I usually like to concentrate on just one floor/subject when we visit. But since today was a random visit, and the girls wanted to go through it all, we started at the top and worked our way down.

Usually, the girls went to their favorite exhibits, so some floors we rushed through, which was quite fine by me, because I only wanted us to be there an hour before the toddler’s naptime. The take-away learning moments that I noticed were: (1) spending time at the water and wind erosion tables to learn more about how water and wind can shape the land; (2) finally getting a chance to make a building and test it in the earthquake lab; and (3) discovering that wetlands filter and purify water.

Then home for nap and lunch. I did online research for wetlands activities, and we will be doing some experiments later this week to explore this topic further (we simply ran out of time today). M wrote and read the words she learned yesterday. The girls drew (M drew a barosaurus dinosaur) and played with their ponies and dinosaurs. After lunch I read another Pooh adventure while the girls did more drawing, and then we were off to speech.
I had been planning to run a quick errand after speech class, but C was visibly tired, so I decided we should stick around home instead. We had a delicious snack outside and played outside for awhile. The girls ended up performing some dance shows for me, until we discovered a new insect and caught it for observation and to sketch in our science journals. We first observed that it had 6 legs, two antennae, a mostly red body with some black. Seeing a visible stripe down the middle of its back, we knew it was a beetle. But our insect book had no beetle that matched! I started googling, and couldn’t find anything. My best guess was that maybe it was a juvenile box elder bug, because we have a lot of box elder bugs in our backyard, and they are red and black. So when I googled that, we found our answer! It was a juvenile Box Elder Bug! Now I wish our insect book showed the different stages for all insects. Maybe we will need to get a more thorough field guide eventually.

Then we finally got around to our assigned daily activity: Arts and Crafts. Today we did symmetry painting, inspired by a local blogger and the book, Math Arts. The girls loved this; it really was magical to open the fold and see the symmetrical designs and color blends. We will definitely be exploring this again!

Afterwards, the girls made more art, this time with stamps, while I bathed the toddler (who got a hold of some paint while I was distracted by a long-awaited, pleasant phone conversation). I even took a shower too, which provided much rejuvenation before the dinner chaos; I may do this more often!

I tried to put a major focus today on playing. I would have liked to start our experiments to follow-up the last-minute museum visit, but I decided play was more important, and we will fit those in throughout the week. I think we made a good balance of free play and structured activities. I like having a daily “subject”, but sometimes it can be too much if our day is already full of child-led, living learning. And it must have been a tiring day, as M collapsed in bed an hour early! (C, on the other hand, had a quick nap in the car, so she might be up late.)

Sun-Shining Expressions

Do you ever have those sun-shining days where everyone is getting along, you’re marveling at everything your kids say, and everyone is just living life joyfully together? Today was one of those days! I couldn’t have asked for a better start to a few days of parenting solo with the kids.

After breakfast we headed out to our nearby National Forest. The first trail is literally a 5 minute drive from our house, and on odd days, dogs can be off-leash on the trails. We have become so spoiled here! A quick romp in the woods, with a happy, free dog, and happy, free children! Best start to the week!

Our happy, muddy dog

Best quote of the hike, furnished by M while looking at an orange bag tossed on the side of the trail:

“Is that poop? That smells like poop.”

(She’s well aware that dog owners will leave the poop bag on the trail to pick up on the way back down, but this just cracked me up!)

On the drive back home, while stopping for coffee, we started singing the Music Together‘s Hello Song, but putting in things around us, like “Hellooooo to the red car, so glad to see you!”, etc, when C sang:

“Hellooooo to the LipperLoppies, so glad to see you.”

Seriously, you do not understand the name of this blog until you have spent some time with my children. LipperLoppy is definitely a family joke!

At home, we started our language arts learning session. M played games on the computer while I worked with C, and entertained the baby toddler simultaneously. (FYI, we have temporarily thwarted the climbing-on-tables-eating-art-supplies problem by placing all chairs on the tables unless a butt is sitting in one.) Today C worked on the letter B, which was pretty hard for her to write, and she didn’t have the patience to practice much. She really loves to color, so spent most of her time coloring, and doing a few quick B crafts. She is still really proud of her ABC book that she is making. Her activities included a B letter hunt, B Words Cut N Paste, Writing B Worksheet, B Coloring Page, and a B Craft (gluing beans onto the Bb template).

(sorry for the crappy photo)

C actually did the bean craft (photo, above) while I was putting the toddler down for a nap, so she might have done more if I had stayed with her. But it was way past naptime.

Then the girls switched places. C did much better on the laptop this time, and didn’t need any of my help! (Whew!) M had been a little stressed with our reading lesson last week, so I switched things up a bit. She first did some worksheets learning words in the -an family (again, I chose something that she was already familiar with, that I thought she would be able to read easily, and that she also can say correctly, there is that speech therapy sneaking right in with reading lessons!). She worked on the words: can, pan, fan, man, ran, van (and I’m kicking myself that I did not include tan! guess I will add that next week as a surprise). She was able to read, write, and say the words easily, and understood that they all had the same ending too. Then we played a board game. I printed out the board game, “Snakes and Ladders“. If she came to a “Word Card” space, she drew a card and had to read the word on the card (and just the word; no pictures for hints). She did great! I also included any other words she could already confidently read (family names, and cat, basically). She enjoyed playing the game a lot too, and can’t wait to do it again. I told her we can learn new words each week, and keep adding cards to the game. She’s thrilled! In fact, she was so proud of herself that she wrote out the entire alphabet and some of the words later that day, on her own direction.

Then, for writing practice, she wrote a letter to a different relative. This time, I printed out the alphabet on similar lined paper, to encourage her to write more neatly and pay attention to the lines, but it was just there as a reference, no requirement. This relative’s birthday is coming up, so we decided to make a package with more artwork and birthday cards from the girls.

Then it was time for our late lunch. And I had scrumptious leftovers of BBQ pork sandwiches. So delicious, and for once, I ate a very filling lunch that really helped me last the day. I need to try to eat more at lunch time!

After lunch, the toddler was still sleeping (she ended up with a 2-hour nap, woo-hoo!), so the girls made beaded necklaces. M has been wanting to finish one that she had started in speech class months ago, so it was about time that they did! (I thought I had packed all the beads already, but I found them.) M made a very long necklace that she loves and thinks it is just the thing Fancy Nancy would wear. Oh my.

Perfect timing, in that the toddler didn’t wake until we had finished with the beads! Then we were off to run errands: mail the package at the post office, thrift shopping at a local kid resale store, and purchasing a few items at the grocery store that we would need for dinner. We didn’t make it back home until past 4, and still had science to do!

I told the girls we could wait to do science for another day, and just play, but they wanted to do the science activity, Polar Bears. The relatively new-to-our-local-zoo polar bear is quite the entertainer; she basically has a routine of swimming to the glass underwater, then coming straight up out of the water (to the ooh’s of the crowd watching) and backfloating to start over again. It’s fun to watch! Anyway, we had been at the zoo the last month, and M had asked to study polar bears next.

When we were about to start, M said she first wanted to tell us what she already knows about polar bears. She had a whole presentation prepared! She started by passing out toppings to her toy cake, that had loop velcro on it, saying, “feel this, do you think this feels like polar bear fur?”. WOW, just wow! She had more to do/say, but C was not in the mood for a lecture from her older sister, so I told M that she could give a Polar Bear Presentation to Daddy when he came home.

While the girls worked on a coloring page, tangram puzzle, and creature card, I started reading some of the books we had checked out from the library.

The main facts we learned were:

  • Polar bears live in the arctic.
  • Mother polar bears have 1-3 cubs at a time, usually 2, and nurse for 2.5 years.
  • Polar bears are the largest land predator and the largest bear.
  • Polar bears eat seals.
  • Polar bears need ice to hunt seals, and global warming is decreasing ice in the arctic.

Then the girls each made an informational poster including all of the facts mentioned above.

And lastly, they made a polar bear craft. M said, “Mom, can you give me cotton balls for my birthday? I would love that. We could make a pillow with them.” I had already been planning to stock the craft cabinet with more things like pom-poms and such, and now I know to add cotton balls to the list too!

And gosh, I forgot that I had some online polar bear videos and webcams for them to check out. Well, they can watch those later this week, and maybe I will even look for a nature show on the Arctic/polar bears on Netflix too. The beauty of homeschooling is that we never stop learning!

By this time, we were overdue for dinner. Luckily what I had planned was simple, and fairly quick. I just have to share one more quote from the day, another one by M:

“My middle name is tortilla.”

Reading and Writing 1-on-1

Every Monday we will be doing some 1-on-1 time with language arts. We spend a lot of time each day working on reading and writing (M is always writing and practicing sounding out letters, just for play), but I wanted some weekly structured work too. Usually we do our homeschooling activities together (both M and C; I gear the activity for M’s level and lower it down to C’s) but I thought that (1) M would benefit most from 1-on-1 for reading and (2) C would also enjoy 1-on-1 time with me. Today was the first time I tried it out, while wrestling with the baby (maybe next week I will wait until her nap for this).

While I worked with C, M played some online reading games. C already knows how to write her name (although sometimes she writes it backwards or mixes the letters around) and how to write a few other letters. I thought she would enjoy making an ABC book, so each week we will work on a new letter.

We started with “A”, naturally! She hunted for a’s in a short text (we used this printout), cut’n’pasted A words (from this printable), made an apple craft (from here), and of course, practiced writing (using this worksheet). She wrote both capital and lowercase A’s well, but insisted on doing it a little differently (for “A”, she started on the bottom, made a hill and then put the line across; and for “a”, she first made the line and then the circle). I never did formal ABC stuff with M (there are so many activities to do with an alphabet theme, if you’re interested just google it); I really think it is unnecessary, but I needed to come up with something to do with C! She really enjoyed it, and can’t wait to show her ABC book to Daddy when he comes home tonight.

The baby even did some work; she made her first drawing today!

Then it was time to switch. C got to play some online games (from starfall or pbskids.org) while I worked with M. This didn’t go as smoothly as I thought it would; although C is self-sufficient on my iphone or ipad, the laptop mouse was difficult for her to work, so I needed to run back and forth a lot. I hadn’t planned anything to do with M, so I just winged it.

First I made simple CVC words for her to read. She did great, but it is a challenge. Because she is apraxic, it is hard for her to even say most CVC words correctly, so this was both a reading and speech practice! (In her speech therapy we work on CVC words.) Then she read the first pages of Hop on Pop (with the words Cup and Pup). She did it, but sometimes she would just guess without reading, or, in the case of the phrase “Pup in cup.” she kept wanting to say “in a”, so was she reading or reciting? I really think it is at least twice as hard for her because of her speech disorder, but she is motivated and we will continue to go along at her pace! Then, for writing practice, she wrote a letter to a family member to mail. I figure the best writing practice is motivated writing, so she chose the family member and what she wanted to write, and I just spelled the words for her. M writes in all capital case and that’s fine by me for now; she knows how to write lowercase.

  • "Living is learning and when kids are living fully and energetically and happily they are learning a lot, even if we don't always know what it is. " - John Holt
  • LipperLoppy? what???

    “LipperLoppy” is a word that my daughters invented. It is usually used as a silly adjective or noun. It's a frequent family joke and a good representation of our family's crazy joyful life.
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