Sunday, October 21, 2012

Making your own Abacus/Abaci

So when i took Annabeth and Nik to therapy, i asked their therapist, Judy, what I should do about annabeth's issues with understanding borrowing and carrying in subtraction.  we've been on it a while and she's JUST not getting it, at ALL.  So she recommended we use an abacus to help her visualize better the idea behind subtraction, so I remembered that Right Start has a really good curriculum for that, and even a book specifically for the abacus.  So searched online and happened upon a post on the Well trained mind forum about someone who made her own abacus using the instructions she found on a blog.  Well the blog was an old geocities blog from many years prior and wasn't there, but she'd uploaded a picture of hers and from that it was super easy to figure out how to do it, so i bought the supplies yesterday and today, inbetween my nap and our evening church services I DID IT! Follow through is not my forte these days, so i'm particularly proud of this :)

I made a bunch, i'm contemplating giving one to Judy, as  a thank you for all her awesome work with my kiddos, which would still leave me with 3 which i think is enough.    Together, it cost about $12 with no sales or coupons at JoAnne's so not bad for 4 abaci!

What you need:

50 blue beads (i ran out and used green for 2) and 50 yellow beads for each abacus
I bought a 1 lb packaged of assorted ones for $6

10 1/8 inch dowels.  I bought 2 packs of 22 for $1 each

4 large craft sticks per abacus.  they are like popsicle sticks but thinner and wider.

Glue gun and LOTS of glue sticks. i used more than i expcted, but i was careful to blob it on, that stuff is like cement if you blob on enough.

So all you do is sandwich the dowels between the two craft sticks liberally slathering with glue gun glue, being careful to work quickly, as it dries fast,  then add the beads, then add the other two craft sticks.  My dowels came in about 12 inch segments.  with the blue beaded ones, i cut off about an inch and a half, but by the time i got to the green i was impatient and didn't.  I'm not sure it matters either way.  

I"m pleased with how they turned out! they are super strong :)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Today's art project

Hey all! I thought i'd pop on and share our first fun half of the day!  I have a friend who makes these amazing, stellar, end of the week posts on her blog about all the cool stuff they've done, but i know there's no way i'll keep it all together in my mind, let alone be together enough to get it all done, so i'm going to be posting as time allows and as inspiration comes.  So today was definitely one of those inspiration days! Yesterday i had to have the "even though we homeschool, that doesn't mean you get to lay around in your jammies all day.  And actually i threatened to remove their afternoon free time if they didn't start getting UP and dressed in the morning!  And it worked and we were able to start promptly after ash got on the bus this morning, YAY! and we had a particularly long Bible study time and a great discussion.  it was about Holiness- what it means, and also about the flood and the history surrounding that.  At the end the older two wrote in their notebooks about the flood and i had Annabeth and Leif draw about it, and their interpretations were so hilariously different.

But the REALLY cool thing we did today was art! We worked with soft pastels, which are a GINORMOUS MESS.  You'll see my 3yo in the pic below looking like a chimney sweep, and the real life 3yo was even messier than the pic showed... but anyway, here's what we made

We got the idea for this project from the AMAZING list of pastel projects from Hodgepodge   We did specifically the draw a fall fruit project.  Leif chose an apple and the rest of us did a pumpkin.   I loved having a step by step picture tutorial, what a great help!  We'll most certainly be employing their projects in the future! so much fun! even if we do have a thick layer of dust on our carpet i'm sure! 

Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Homeschool Loop Schedule; How to make one, and why.

I discovered the idea of the loop schedule for homeschooling last spring and i keep coming back to it when my current plan isn't working as well as i'd like.   I just finished making mine, and I thought i'd share the awesome benefits of a loop schedule and how I went about making mine.

Why use a loop schedule?

I don't know about the rest of you, but my schedule is PACKED.  i'm homeschooling 5 this year, with one in college and one in special ed preschool, and there's a LOT to get done.  I find when i'm placed in a box of a list of things to get done, one of two things happens.  
1.  I rush through our subjects, not giving them the time and attention they deserve, or leave a child not fully understanding a math concept, for example. 
2.  We give each item on the list the attention it deserves but then have things left over on the schedule undone- which means, we either need to remember to do it on another day- and then get behind on THAT day, or skip it!  This is where we usually end up, and it usually means we end up neglecting certain subjects, artist study, art, music, and critical thinking are our go-to neglectees.  And as far as i'm concerned that is NOT cool. 

How to design a loop schedule?

I read a number of different posts and forum topics on loop scheduling and none were quite what I was looking for, so i opted to reinvent the wheel.  Here's what I decided to do, with help from my genius child who has not yet had all his brains sucked out by his children. (he doesn't have any) 

Step 1.  Make a chart in whatever word processing program you use, I used Word Starter.  Make headings of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  (you will end up deleting these)

It will look roughly like this- 

I kept it small and without a lot of detail so you could see closely what I was doing.  The reason I listed headings even though I was going to delete them later, is that it provided me a mental picture of what would be scheduled in that "perfect week" and how to space them evenly.  For example, if i were to do  history 3x a week, like you see on the schedule, if it were a regular schedule, M, W, F, would work just fine, but since its a loop schedule, the Friday history would be really close in proximity to the Monday history, so what i did was schedule History at the end of monday, and the middle of wednesday, and the beginning of friday.   After that, I added in other subjects where they fit best.  

Step 2.   Remove all the days of the week.  Number each item (optional) 

Here's what mine looks like. 

I could BARELY fit it with the snipping tool, so you'll see it started to cut off "nature study"

This gives you a list to work from. 

Step 3. Convert to a circle visual (optional)

I am omitting this step for me, because I think the list will work just fine- but if you'd like a visual, this is the idea.  It shows you also the problems i ran into trying to schedule straight on the circle and why a list, at least in the beginning is preferable.  

Step 4: Make lists of each subject

Finally you just need to make a list of each topic and what you will cover.  I've not done this part yet, and i might just "wing it" but i suspect that it will work better if its brainless- So i'll eventually end up making lists, and I'd urge you to do so as well.  OR just do the next thing in the subjects where its already brainless, like if you use just one math book.  (I like to complicate things by using several, plus living math literature)

How to use your loop schedule

Now that you have a loop schedule, you are all set.  Start on number one.  Go through as much as you want to on that day.  Start over the next day where you leave off.   *IMPORTANT*  At the start of the next week, take over where you left off, NOT at the beginning of the list or else you will miss out on whatever you didn't get done.  

One final note-  You may decide there are subjects you just plain want to be sure to cover every day.  For us those subjects are  Bible, including Bible study, memorization, and alternating days we do Biblical history and Biblical Worldview.   So we'd start our loop schedule after the daily items.  You may decide LA and Math need  to be done daily, which is totally fine.  Do them before you start the loop!  

Other blog posts on Loop Scheduling

Thanks for reading and good luck scheduling!  I'll post later as to how well its working for us!!