Thursday, June 20, 2013

Art Enthusiasm pt 1

I am excited about many things these days.  I am excited that my kids have opportunities that I could only dream about.  Princess has been interested in visual art ever since she won a 6th grade art contest when she was in public school.

When the kids show interest in a particular subject be it drama, cake decorating, or sewing, I do my best to find outlets for them to explore these interests more deeply.

Princess is currently in a art intensive at a college in our state.  They are keeping her busy from sun up to sun down.  This is my kid who could sleep til noon and do all her work until the wee hours of the morning.  I'm glad this program is forcing her to work during "normal" hours.  Nonetheless, she is learning a great deal.  They incorporate technology and social media in their studio time so she is learning a lot about using the iPad to create art. There are 29 talented kids in this program for Visual Art, Creative Writing, and Theatre.
Stay tuned in the next couple of weeks for more about Princess' experience there and the program in general.  In the meantime, here is some of her work from the last 4 days.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

An Awesome Weekend

What an awesome weekend.  We took family photos for the first time in 10 years this morning and for the first time we took outside shots instead of the stuffy studio shots we normally take.  I can’t wait to see the results.  The photographer picked on me a little about my facial expressions so I pray the final pictures come out fine.  I tend to have a serious facial expression so it was a bit of a challenge to smile on cue.

Friday night the girls had salon visits and we spent a lot of time with a make-up artist in the mall trying to figure out color matches so that we can do our own make-up for the photo shoot.  When it was all said and done she totalled everything and watched my eyes pop out of my head when the total came close to $300.  This was make-up for two people -crème-to-powder foundation, pressed powder, bronzer, concealer, eye shadow, blush, lip gloss, etc. etc.  I do not normally buy make-up because I only really wear it on Sundays and on special occasions so I have no idea how much people pay for make-up.  I started back tracking and eliminating products in favor of the bare necessities.  The make-up lady looked devastated and I felt kind of bad because she spent over an hour with us showing us how to apply the make-up and doing our faces. 

 I actually made a phone call to my husband right in front of the sales lady to explain the circumstances to him hoping to receive an official okay before making my purchase.  The sales lady said she was really impressed with that as she never sees her customers do that.  I thought that was funny.  The photographer did comment on my make-up looking nice so I guess we did a pretty decent job.  And perhaps this make-up will last forever given the price!

We ended the day visiting the MLK memorial and of course a trip to D.C. Cupcakes.  It was just a lovely day all around.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Weekend With No Children

So I am not used to being alone, at least not all day.  Well I really wasn’t alone.  I was just without kids all weekend.  I’ve had 6 kids for the last 11.5 months but this weekend I had none.  I attended my youngest brother’s graduation from high school on Saturday morning followed by a get together at his mom’s with family.  Then I attended my state’s homeschool convention graduation ceremony.  I ended the day falling asleep in my husband’s lap before retiring for the night.

It was an interesting contrast between the public school graduation I attended in the morning and the homeschool graduation in the afternoon.  In both graduations, the graduates marched in with cap and gown and much fanfare from the audience.  There was a presentation of the colors and the pledge of allegiance but after that things were very different.  At the homeschool graduation:

  1. The ceremony opened in prayer.
  2. There were two musical selections from a small singing group.
  3. There was no valedictorian address
  4. Parents presented diplomas to students.

The program at the public school graduation listed many scholarships that students earned.  The homeschool graduation program listed whatever information the graduate deemed important.  I read many of the bios which included how long the student had been homeschooled, their favorite bible verses and special talents, and some listed their plans for the future including the college they would attend.   Both were large having a graduating class of around 200 graduates. 

Several of the local support groups offer their own graduation ceremonies. I would like to attend one of these to figure out which type of graduation I would like for my own graduate in 2 years.  

My weekend ended with church this morning (just hubby & I) and dinner out at The Cheesecake Factory.  Nice.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Math Mammoth

  photo logo_zps1488a12d.jpg
I received a downloadable copy of Algebra I worksheets from Math Mammoth by Maria Miller.  I received Algebra 1-A worksheets which focus on:

  • Introduction to Algebra
  • Real numbers and their properties
  • Solving & Graphing Linear Equations & Functions
  • Solving & Graphing Linear Inequalities
I also received Algebra1-B worksheets which focus on:

  • Powers
  • Polynomials & Factoring
  • Quadratic Equations
  • Rational Expressions & Equations
  • Radicals & Geometry
I received the answer keys to both 1-A & 1-B as separate files.

I can’t begin to explain the frustrations I dealt with when taking my oldest daughter through Algebra I last year.  We had to switch approaches and resources so many times that she ended up not completing the course for that year.  For this reason I decided to outsource math for her each year thereafter.  But even with an outside teacher for Geometry there are still some gaps in her learning.  She may have finished the course but she didn’t master all of the concepts.  This is my art kid not my math kid!  Having the math mammoth worksheets last school year would have been great.  At least I have them for the two kids that follow. 

Learning from my experiences with Princess (oldest kid is always the guinea pig), I decided to ease Pumpkin into her Algebra studies.  After Christmas I added a supplemental program to her math studies that has been taking her through the fundamentals of Algebra I.  This is to prepare her for the start of Algebra I in August 2013, the beginning of her freshmen year of high school.   The program starts at exactly the same place Math Mammoth Algebra 1-A begins.  However, one key difference with Math Mammoth is the inclusion of conceptual thinking and word problems.  For example, writing variable expressions and equations is not something we have ever worked on but I’ve seen these problems in different review books.  My kids always have difficulty with them.  Heck…I have difficulty with them!  They make you think.  Quite frankly that is one of my goals in homeschooling - teach my kids to think.  Math mammoth believes conceptual thinking is important too.  Here is one such example of a variable expression from page 11 of  the Algebra 1-A worksheets:

The product of a whole number and the net consecutive whole number is 30.  What is the number?

We started out trying to figure out these math puzzles (which is what I like to call them) as a first step to using this curriculum.  All three of my kids together (10th grader, 8th grader, and 6th grader) worked together to solve these problems on the dry erase board.  My kids have had tons of pages of straight math calculations which have its place but to think through the math conceptually is just as important if not more.   Here is a word problem from page 30 of Algebra 1-A:

At the end of the day, Janelle had $10 more than three times the money she had in the morning.  She now has $160.  How much did she have in the morning?

We are had lots of fun with page 30! Here is a sampling from math mammoth of more problems like these.

I will continue to use these sheets as a review with my 10th grader throughout the summer.  She will be doing Algebra II next school year but is a little rusty on her Algebra I material.  I’m privileged to have this curriculum as my 8th grader is preparing for next year.  I will work this curriculum into her core program for additional practice.  My youngest daughter will probably do Algebra I as an 8th grader at which time I will pull this curriculum out again.  It is very thorough.  However, the Algebra I program I received can not be used as a stand alone product.  There is no instruction on how to actually solve the problems.   

Maria Miller gives some of the best advice I’ve seen on how to teach Algebra I to students here.

The only thing I do not like about this curriculum is the way it is packaged and priced.   Packages are parts of a color coded series and available as bundles with other series or as stand alone products.  Many of the series cover many grade levels so it is a little difficult to understand the overlap and to figure out which product you need to cover the concepts you're looking to cover.  Perhaps more guidance on which package and/or product to purchase would be helpful. Algebra 1-A & 1-B worksheets I reviewed is available as a download from Kagi as part of a Gold/Green Series bundle for $65.  A CD bundle is available for $70.
The Gold Series includes worksheets for Grades 3-8/9.
The Green Series includes worksheets by topics including measuring (grades 3-6), multiplication & division (grades 3-6), fractions (grades 3-6), decimals (grades 3-7), geometry, statistics (grades 3-7), numbers & operations (grades 3-6).

Or just purchase the Algebra 1-A & 1-B downloadable bundle for $13.50.
The answer keys are available for $2.00 for Algebra 1-A and $2.00 for Algebra 1-B.
Purchase the Algebra 1-A worksheets only for $8.00 (download) or
Purchase the Algebra 1-B worksheets only for $7.00 (download).

There are many other products available from  These products cover every grade level.  Many of these products can be used as a full math curriculum or as supplements like the Algebra worksheets.  

You can also purchase math mammoth products at and purchase hard copies of math mammoth products at LuLu and Rainbow Resources.  

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Mom when is school over?


I never have an "official" last day of school.  The kids know they will continue to read and do math throughout the summer so why actually declare the year over?  I don't want the school switch to go "off" in their heads so let's just say we are transitioning to a relaxed schedule.

In my opinion our entire school year is more relaxed than what makes me comfortable but we progress and adequately cover all subjects.  I'm not quite sure why I still have that angst about our schedule, nonetheless it is always there.  You know the thought that "it isn't enough, we should be doing more."

I signed the younger two up to do BJU's summer reading program.  Incentives are a huge hit over here.  They will all continue doing their current math programs.  NuNu will be finishing Horizons 5, Pumpkin is working through the Keys series - Algebra.   Princess will be taking her Geometry final this week and brushing up on Algebra I skills over the summer.  I'm not quite sure how she will fit her Algebra review in with her busy summer schedule.  She has two summer programs to attend, a week at abuelitos (grandparents), finishing up driver's ed, and vacation time.   Before you know it it will be Labor Day.    In the meantime we will enjoy days at the pool, spontaneous road trips, and lazy days at home.  We will enjoy every moment in the sun.


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