Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Computer Skills and Science Fair Projects

Our homeschooling co-op is having a science fair in mid-March and Reilly was very excited to sign up. She's not old enough for her project to be judged - that will come in 4th grade - and I was very proud that she wanted to participate anyway. She's so competitive that I could easily see her not wanting to do a project if there's not a chance that she could win a ribbon.

We got lots of books on science fair projects from the library, and she decided on a project about the senses. This morning in school, we figured out how to make a form where we could write down all our "data" from the experiment and I guided Reilly through how to make it on the computer. Then we got three "subjects" - Troy, Nani Kay, and Mrs. Harris from across the street - and blindfolded them. They had to use their different senses, one at a time, to try and figure out which fruit was in various containers. They started by shaking the container to see if the sound helped, then they got to touch, smell, taste, and see the fruit in that order.

It was a lot of fun to do, and I really enjoyed watching Reilly guide the experiment and ask the questions. I've tried really hard to let her do most of the work on this project and sit back and offer advice and guidance when needed. I can really see how easy it is for a parent to want to step in and make everything look neat and perfect and I'm fighting that urge a lot. But it doesn't make much sense for her 2nd grade project to look like an adult did it. So, while I talked her through making the form and what we would need to have on there, she actually did the lion's share of the actual work on the computer. Same with the experiment itself; I guided her through how to ask the questions, but she recorded all the information herself. Knowing how competitive she is, I'm hoping that she will have the most satisfaction with the amount of work that is hers when we're all done.

Speaking of competitive, I've realized that sometimes playing games to practice math facts can backfire because she begins to get upset if she thinks she's not going to win. She won at hangman this morning, but began to get mad when I started getting some points on another game we started to play. The idea of "it's just a game!" is completely lost on her and she kind of struggles with finding a balance between competetiveness and having fun.

Well, sometime when I get them loaded onto the computer, I'll get the pictures up of our experimenting! For now, I'm off to BED!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

In Which I Compare Homeschooling to An Ugly Medical Condition

Well, things have gotten better as we near the end of this week, I'm thankful to say! While we had a bit of a rough start Monday and Tuesday, yesterday and today could not have gone better.
I switched things around with how we do spelling and I think that helped a lot. I used to do the pre-test on Monday and have her do part of the workbook work, and then on Tuesday and Wednesday she'd choose five words each day and write them in sentences, as well as finishing up the workbook sheets. At some point, we'd have the final test and then we'd move on.
The sentence writing was, more often than not, a huge ginormous struggle, so I pretty much did away with them for this week and found other ways for her to practice the words. I made a crossword puzzle - thank you, God, for the internet - and did some things on the whiteboard, like I'd write the list of words and misspell them and she'd write them correctly. MUCH less struggle - YAY!

Here's my theory: I think that there's something about school that could be compared to a boil. I mean, things tend to build up and build up until we have some type of blowout and then things are better. So, I'll keep praying taht I handle the blowups better, because when we have days like today, I really realize how great this is!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Hello! It's Me Again!

Well, after a really, really loooong Christmas Break due to the 9-day power outage, we're back in the swing of things with school. Yay! I love the break, but it is nice to return to our regular schedule.

Last week was pretty hard, though. In fact, if I had had to make a decision on Tuesday if I wanted to continue homeschooling or wanted to send Reilly to public school, I would have chosen to send her to PS. Yes, the day was THAT hard. But, we got through it - with a lot of prayers and some crying thrown in for good measure...her and me both - and forged on and I really think that this week is going to be great!

Thursday was the hardest day of all, but in a way completely unrelated to school. We had to take our little dog, Joey, to the vet and have him put to sleep. It was very sad for me and Troy, and for The Kids as well, although I think their sadness was mainly because of seeing their parents upset. I wrote a post about Jo over at my other blog, if you'd like to read. So, when we got home, I didn't really feel like teaching a whole lot, but I felt that at least trying to keep to our routine would help, so Reilly made a diorama as part of her Learning Language Arts Through Literature lesson. She had so much fun making this diorama that it completely made up for the bad days we'd had earlier in the week.
She was to color and cut out the little pictures of the characters from the stories she's been reading and then make some kind of scene with them. Now, as you look at the pictures, I'll admit that I came up with the idea for making the barn, and I showed her how to use little cardboard strips to set up the figures, but she did everything else on her own. She was so proud of her work that she took it to karate that night to show it to her friends, The Cox Girls.

Then, of course, Supey had to get in on the action!

"La, la, la...I'm an ejookated kat. Look at me, ignoring you..."

"Oh, hey, are there any ducks in that pond?


So, there's the final product! I was so proud of how well she worked and the thought that she put into it. (Now I just need to figure out what in the heck to DO with it!) Our homeschooling group is doing a science fair and Reilly really wants to participate. I'm looking forward to watching her work on her project for that. I'm pretty sure she's going to have a lot of fun!