All Girls School


Oh, Baby!
November 20, 2008, 5:20 pm
Filed under: art, baby, Bubba, mimi, Thanksgiving, troubleshooting

We began with some creative writing today. Bubba had to choose two words from a list randomly and then write a story about them. She chose “bird” and “love”. The story goes like this:

Once upon a time ther was a bird and a evil villain and a girl named hannah. So one day the evil villain was in his lair bilding an evil machine. When he had finish bilding his evil machine ther was a panel and on the panel ther wher two level’s and the level’s on the panel wher evil and love. the evil villain put the switch on evil and he aimed the machine at a bird but right wen he was about to shoot his mother called him to eat soup so wen he was eating soup hannah swicht it to love. So wen he shot it the bird wa full of love. The End

(We began and finished with creative writing today, as a certain someone was not a fan of the project and she drug it out all. day. long.)

After Mimi got home from school, the kids took a look at Baby’s Thankful Placemat from preschool and decided to make their own pages of things they are thankful for. I drug out a bunch of old magazines and all of the scissors, glue sticks, crayons and markers.

It was a fun project and the kids were having a ball with it. I want you to notice something in that photo. Look really closely. See this part?

Looks great, right? So, I thought it would be fine to go around the corner into the kitchen and whip up some banana bread. All of a sudden the older kids all begin yelling that…

It’s the first self-inflicted mullet at our house. She was awfully proud of herself. I don’t think she’s going to be as happy about it when we remove the “party in the back”. The good news is that we just had some great school photos taken of her. The less good news is that we have a family portrait scheduled for Saturday. I’m not sure yet if we will get her hair fixed before then or just run with a bad hair day theme with the photo shoot.

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Quick update
October 2, 2008, 9:42 pm
Filed under: art, Bubba, curriculum, games, history, math, reading, science, writing

We’ve been studying the respiratory system. I’m a little disappointed because the curriculum that we’re using for science is a little too superficial for Bubba’s level. I find myself quickly scrounging for supplementary items online or in our book and DVD collection to feel that she’s getting something out of the lessons.

Our printer is broken, so we’ve been doing a lot of online math games. Bubba told me that she felt weak on her analog time-telling skills. We found a few games that dealt with that and within thirty minutes or so she was getting all of the questions correct. She needed a refresher from last year and I had no idea. I guess we have mostly digital clocks in the house because I felt like her time-telling was great. I’m glad she was able to tell me that she felt weak in an area and we were able to work on it together. She also requested that we play more games with math, so we’ve been playing cards and Yahtzee lately.

In history we’re hitting Ancient Greece. This is one of my favorite periods in history, especially coming from an art history background, so there are lots of tangents to hit. We’re gearing up to read a bunch of the Greek Myths, but I’m having a hard time putting our regular reading book aside. We’ve been reading The Mysterious Benedict Society. It has been a lot of fun for us as we guess the solutions to the different puzzles. Some of them are over Bubba’s head, but so far she has either been able to figure them out or understand them after we find the answer(s). We’re only about a fourth of the way in, though, and any of the negative reviews state that this is where it starts slowing down. I already see what they say about it needing some editing as there are a lot of passages that are unnecessary and some feel redundant, but the story has been intriguing and fun. We’ll see where it goes from here.

We’ve been doing a little handwriting because she has this block about the number 4 and the number 9. She always makes them backwards. It’s like she knows that she always writes them the wrong way so she overthinks them when she writes them and they are consistently wrong. I have to remind her to use clear and legible handwriting whenever we have written assignments. She hates taking the time to make her letters correctly. I wouldn’t mind if she used a quicker and more comfortable style of writing, but she really never mastered correct writing in the first place. You have to know the rules in order to break them. For our more structured writing lessons we’ve been discussing how to research a topic. We’ve been over the Dewey Decimal System at the library and I’ve been working with her on how to find things on the internet. We’ve also discussed the importance of making sure your sources are legitimate and that she never decides to just go Googling without her dad or I there with her.

In art we are working on shape. Bubba finished the line section two weeks ago. I like the curriculum that we draw from because there are a couple of projects that deal with the technical aspects of the element followed by a couple of really creative projects that incorporate the same element. We have a new project every Monday and then she has the week to complete it. This way she’s been able to take her time and not rush through any of them and the results are much more finished-looking pieces than when we tried to complete them all in one day.



Current Activities
September 4, 2008, 10:18 pm
Filed under: art, baby, Bubba, curriculum, guitar, history, math, music, phonics, preschool, reading, schedule, science, sewing, spelling, writing

Spelling – a list without a pretest. Bubba was struggling with the pretests last year as she’s such a perfectionist and there’s really no point in testing her on things that she hasn’t been taught yet. I almost feel like we should let our spelling instruction come naturally through our writing tasks. When I thought about that more, though, I really want the writing tasks to focus on content and structure and I don’t want to point out every misspelled word and distract from the actual writing. So, structured spelling lists it is. There are supplementing pages that are actually kind of fun and a little bit challenging, so she doesn’t HATE spelling this year. (four days per week)

Phonics – I detest this subject as I think it is super super boring. So does she. I think we’re going to nix phonics or at least skip to the few items in the book that would be instructional and useful to her. I’m going to have to look through our book a little more to weed out the busy work. (once per week, but maybe not at all.)

Science – We’re doing a unit on the human body with lots of activities thrown in. She’s also doing quite a bit of writing by logging our daily tasks and making little booklets and stuff. We’ve checked out a bunch of human body books from the library and she has been reading them with and to her little sisters and taking them in the car when we go pick up Mimi from school. The other day she was reading about the heart and we ended up having a great conversation about the relationship between the size of an animal and how quickly its heart beats. We’re planning on a trip down to the Science Museum to see the human body exhibit before it leaves next month. (twice a week)

Math – Right now we’re doing mostly review of addition and subtraction of multiple numbers. I’ve found lots of fun activities that incorporate these. I’m going to work with her on a sewing project to work on our measuring skills (and estimating skills, as I am a laaaaazy sewer). We’ve also done some cooking and we practice our fractions. I expect that the cooking will increase as the holiday season gets nearer and we’ll do a lot of practical math like doubling recipes and figuring out the metric system and equivalencies. She really wants to move on in math and get to multiplication and stuff, but I am feeling that we should ease back into the subject. (three times per week)

History – We tried to do an entire year of history over the summer, but burned out on it. We got about a third of the way through it before we shelved it until the school year. We are still in ancient history, but Bubba loves it. She really gets into most of the stories and we have some fun discussions after reading them. It is always amazing to me the details and names she remembers after reading. There are some that I have to go back and look up that she rattles off really quickly. This is one of our favorite subjects as we always learn something new and there is always some sort of fun project to go with it and reinforce the lesson. (twice a week)

Writing – Most of our writing is done within our other subjects as Bubba balks at having to sit down and write just for the sake of writing. One day per week we do do some sort of writing task. Lately we have been working on different brainstorming techniques. At first she was lazy and bored with it until she ended up coming up with a really fun and creative story based on some of her brainstorming. Every Friday is poetry day and we do something different. Last week we had a book from the library about rocks (her current passion) and it was a long poem about different types. We read it and then she chose her favorite type of rock from the poem and copied out that page in her best writing. We have a book of Roald Dahl poems for tomorrow that I’m very excited about.

Reading – Every day I read a chapter of The Wizard of Oz outloud to her. When we’re finished with the book we’re going to watch the movie and compare and contrast it to the book. I think we’ll do it orally or I’ll have her write down the main points and present it to Dad or something. I’ve been thinking about all of the different books we could read and then watch the movie to compare and the options are huge. I think it will give her a better idea of how much better the books typically are, too, and promote more reading. She also reads for half an hour to herself or to her sisters outloud.

Music – She practices her guitar every day except for lesson days. She was given two new songs to practice at her last lesson. We were also informed of her first recital coming up in October. I can’t wait to watch her play in front of everyone.

Art – At the beginning of every week we start a new art project. She then has the entire week to work on it and refine it in order to have a very thoughtfully and thoroughly finished piece. The first few projects in each unit are more technical, exploring each element (line, texture, etc.). Then there are a few really creative projects that incorporate the techniques previously studied.

(On a side note, Baby started preschool today, but I haven’t had time to get the photos off of the camera yet. I’ll write about it when I have them on the computer. Suffice it to say that she had a blast and it sounds like the day went really well.)



Starting Off Well
August 27, 2008, 11:49 am
Filed under: art, Bubba, games, guitar, library, schedule, spelling

Apparently we are a people that enjoy a good schedule. One that is flexible enough to maneuver around impromptu park times but that is consistent enough that we know what’s coming and that we’ll be finished in time to pick up Mimi from school. Last year we didn’t follow any real schedule. Actually, scratch that, we started off the year with an insanely detailed schedule. That didn’t last very long at all and caused major burnout. Then we went to the opposite extreme with only a rough guideline of what we wanted to accomplish throughout the year and some materials to use throughout. That was ok, but felt a little slapped together at times. This year, we have certain things that are done on certain days so that I can be sure we’re going to accomplish at least our minimum goals. Having to get everyone up, dressed, fed and out the door to get Mimi to school in the mornings is a great help in getting us ready to start the school day early. Plus, at that time of the day Baby is happy to play and read and color while we work. Bubba is a bit more focused during the mornings and hasn’t already been distracted by another project that she wants to do instead. We have our afternoons free to do whatever we want.

Yesterday Grandma P came over to drop off Mimi’s birthday present. When she asked Bubba what she had done in school that day, Bubba replied, “We mostly played on the computer and read a little.” It was true. What slipped between the lines in that statement is that Tuesdays are a light academic day since I’ll be helping at the preschool on those days. We did play on the computer doing Language Arts and Spelling games. She completed a spelling worksheet focusing on this week’s words. Reading a “little” consisted of me reading a chapter of The Wizard of Oz outload and Bubba finishing a Junie B. Jones book followed by a trip to the library to pick up an inter-library loan Spiderwick book, which she promptly read three chapters of. She also read aloud a human body book to the younger kids. She failed to mention that she had asked me to find her a math worksheet with adding and subtracting to do just for fun. Later, she and her friend played school with the younger kids where she read more books to them and tried to teach them some basic math. She has a week-long art project every week that she spent a little time on, too. Bubba also practiced her guitar for about half an hour. (I’m not trying to imply with this paragraph that Grandma P looked in any way disapproving about Bubba’s answer, I just found it funny how her quick off-the-cuff response negated a big meaty chunk of the actual learning that took place that day.)

I also want to note for posterity that while the title states that we are starting off well, Bubba has also spent the last half hour walking around with a cape on backwards so that she can pull the hood over her face to refrain from looking at me or speaking to me because she’s so angry with me. It’s all about balance, right? Up next: How Do I Teach Personal Accountability For One’s Actions? (otherwise known as, Sometimes It’s Not EVERYONE Else’s Fault.)



Prep and Art Class
July 8, 2008, 10:49 pm
Filed under: art, Bubba, holiday, mimi, reading, summer

I had some great photos of our extended holiday weekend, but our camera has been misplaced. Suffice it to say, we had a great time with friends and family, ate tons of good food and blew up our entire arsenal.

In other news, I realized that summer is hitting the half-way point, so I need to start organizing for the upcoming year. I’ve been going through a bunch of the items I’d like to use this year and making notes about other resources that correlate. I think this will help our days flow better, instead of searching through the bookshelves and online for the items I need that day, I will be able to get them all ready for the week and have them at our fingertips. I wasn’t very excited about the work involved with this project, but as I’m going through different books, I found myself getting excited about the different things we get to learn about this year.

Bubba has started a book exchange with her friend that lives around the corner. What I love about it is that she is even more driven to read because she has a weekly “deadline” to exchange the books. Also, the girls came up with this on their own out of their love of certain books and their desire to share them with each other.

Bubba and Mimi started summer art classes today. They worked with clay. Bubba made a few different items while Mimi made a really big… thing. I wish so much that I had my camera. Next week is painting, so hopefully it will surface before then.



Sewing, Singing and Winning
June 19, 2008, 9:42 pm
Filed under: art, baby, Bubba, guitar, mimi, sewing

Today Bubba had her second sewing class with our friend. This time they’re working on sun hats. Unfortunately, they didn’t have time to complete them today so I have to wait until next Tuesday until I get to see it. The only thing that I’ve been told is that it will be reversible, she chose pink and purple fabric, and they had money left over so the girls picked out some fun buttons to add as accents. I’m thrilled that she’s learning to sew at a young age. I didn’t learn until I was in middle school and I have no patience for it, so I hate taking the time to cut out the patterns and fabric and iron it and sew it carefully and all that stuff. My pieces all look ok from a great distance. But Bubba on the other hand, relishes every step. Using a hot iron is a grown-up treat for her. She is so steady and slow with the foot pedal that her lines and all careful and fairly straight. I should take a lesson from her.

She is progressing well with her guitar lessons, too. The girl that practices after her saw us at the library and said, “Your daughter is doing really good at her guitar lessons”. So that’s how I know. She was given two new chords to add to her practicing.

Last weekend there was a Sidewalk Chalk festival downtown. We each signed up for a square to color. Baby and I told them that we would share a square. She and I drew a huge tree and a grassy field and flowers. Bubba started and elaborate quilt-like drawing, but started getting hot and thirsty and hungry and stopped. Mimi kept changing her mind about what she was drawing and ended up frustrated at the whole project. Fast forward to two days ago, I get a phone call saying that Baby won the contest for her age division. We were invited down to the new local art gallery for the opening of this show and to be presented her prize. We went down there and looked at the amazing and brutally honest exhibit. Then Baby got her gift bag. It was full of art supplies, a rubber duck and coupons for free food around town. She was especially happy about the rubber duck.

Now ask me how many photos I have of any of these things. none. Go me!



The Show
June 15, 2008, 8:42 pm
Filed under: art, Bubba, party, photography

The photo show was a lot of fun. We put up all of the photos on the displays that my father-in-law made for my sister-in-law’s senior art show. They worked perfectly. We had a good turn out of friends and family.

Dad broke out his R2-D2 cooler for the event. A man that works with him came and played in the backyard. He was wonderful.

Here are the photos from the show.

Texture Series

Shape Series

Line Series

Color Series

Warm Colors


Complimentary Colors


Secondary Colors


Primary Colors

Free Choice Series

Self Portrait

We are excited to do this project again next year. I think next time we will work on capturing concepts with photography instead of doing any more elements of design. We’ll be covering those more thoroughly in our year-long art curriculum, so there’s not going to be any need to repeat them. Plus, I think she will embrace the whole experience more if she’s able to really express herself creatively without the constraints of “assignments”.