Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hello blog. I haven't forgotten about you.
Since it's been forever and ever I think I'll just go with list format. Of course a list of randomness as I can't seem to keep a straight thought.
* I had a big fun photo shoot a couple of weeks ago. I think the more of these I do, the more I learn and see where my mistakes are and where I need to improve. That said, I think each one also gets a little easier and a little better.
* If you'd like to see a sampling of those photo's you can do so by clicking here. I did change the name of that blog in order to be able to fit the web address on a business card. However I think that blog may just go bye-bye because blogger just seems to make photos look crappy. I think it compresses them or something and detail is lost. I don't know. I think if I decide to make a real go of it, I'll have to find some better web host.
* I decided to reinvest the money I made on that big photo shoot right back into my 'business'. Not that I really have a business so to speak, but you know what I mean. Anyway, I had been sort of thinking about taking a photography class and trying to figure out just how I could do it. The online ones that I was interested in seemed way too expensive, or SOLD OUT, or too basic, or too blah. Local college or community classes ran about the same way and many of them required a class in film photography first. I'd have to buy another camera. Why would I do that? So anyhow, I just happened to be browsing my favorite blogs the other morning and low and behold, one of my favorite photographers decided to open up a few more spots in her very popular, sold out photography workshop. I thought it must be a sign so I went ahead and signed up for it. I'll be starting Karen Russell's Photographers Workshop next week! I'm pretty excited about it.
* One more thing about photography then I'll shut up. What's with senior girl photos these days? Some of them I LOVE. But a lot?? borderline trashy. I think what is so great about some senior photos is the youthfulness, the innocence (believe me I know most 18yr olds aren't innocent but still), the coming of age etc... but NOT the sexkitten. I mean come on. Arms up over your head, pouty lips, sultry eyes and booty shorts??? Parents approve of this? The pose I absolutely can not stand is the girl in stiletto heels, crouched down with one leg straight out, hand up to her pouty lip. Can I just say: No way in hell would I let my 18yr old daughter pose like that.

Other randomness:
* I just wish the sun would come out. I know I complain about the weather a lot. I just require sunshine is all.
* I have not been a very good homeschool teacher these past few weeks. I don't think we've had a full day of actual school in two weeks. I think maybe it's a sign I'm burning out a bit. Which is normal. But for some reason I don't want to take a break. Technically school is out May 18th so I figure I should just keep plugging along.
* I'm very behind on Project Life :-/
* Chickens are not the smartest animals. But they sure are funny.

* I don't know why, but I just think this pic cute. Such a little girl thing. She just loves Miss Kitty. She even got a book from the library today entitled: Three Stories You Can Read to Your Cat.

* This post is borderline really long and boring. So I'll just end it here for now. More randomness to come, I'm sure! You can count on me ;-)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Review of Nancy Larson Science 1

I'm doing this review mostly for Chrissy, but you never know who might pop in here on a google search and find this review helpful to them too.  I'll try to give an overview as best I can and then throw in my opinions about it as I go along.
This curriculum was developed by Nancy Larson who has many years of experience in the homeschooling curricula. She is also one of the authors of Saxon math. I'm actually not that familiar with her other work, other than I know what Saxon Math is and I didn't particularly like it when I looked through it at the homeschool fair 2 years ago.
Ok, let's get into the meat of it.
We're currently using Science 1. It's recommended for ages 5 to 8. I would say that level 1 is definitely leaning towards the younger end of the spectrum. For us it has been PERFECT for Megan. It is EXTREMELY easy for Jake. Not to say that he's not learning from it, or not enjoying it; he is. But it's not challenging at all. I'm ok with that. He actually really likes it and begs for science every day. I think at this point (3rd grade) it's important to just keep them interested and not bored. I don't think he should be memorizing the periodic table. ;-)
The curriculum is separated into 6 units: Life stages of human beings; Observing Trees; Exploring sunlight, water and soil; Animals and their habitats; Human body; and Life cycles of insects.

 The teachers manual IS scripted. I know some people hate that and some people love it. For subjects like Math, I hate it. But for this, I think its ok. And actually helpful. I don't read the script word for word. The lessons are short enough and concise enough that a quick read through before giving the lesson is good enough for us.

 You can see in this example above just how scripted it is. "put your finger on the number 3..." I don't do that. Maybe if I were just teaching Megan I would. But I usually just make Jake do all the reading.

Each unit has an accompanying student workbook. This is where the 'reading' is and the activities are. There's usually some drawing and labeling to do with each lesson. My kids really find this fun. They love coloring :) 

There are also "review" pages that go along with each lesson. You can do these the same day as you do the lesson, or before you start the next lesson as a ;-). They're very easy. One nice thing is that usually one question is from a prior unit, so it helps them to retain what they've previously learned. There are also tests or "assessments" too. They are pretty much exactly like the review sheets. Sometimes they even have the exact same questions. For Jake they are laughable. Way too easy. For Megan it's perfect. 

 One of the best things about this curriculum is that you don't have to go looking for or buying anything extra (usually). Everything comes with it. This is a look at our box of "stuff".

There are a ton of these cards. Which seem a little "preschool" to me, but it is helpful to not have to look at a textbook or find a photo online. It's all right there for you.

 There is also several resource books and some insect cards: (also not pictured a set of real x-rays)

 Other things that come with the kit: A butterfly garden and ladybug hotel. These also come with 'coupons' to order butterfly and ladybug larvae. There's a bag of plastic bugs and spiders, a magnifying glass, some pine cones and a tree cookie. There hasn't been a whole lot of "experiments" per say with this curriculum. It's more like looking and observing. I'm guessing the next level would get more into actual experiments.

Ok so the long and the short of it:
Would I recommend it: Yes, for Kindergarten or 1st grade.
Am I going to purchase this again: Probably. My kids love it and they are learning. Level 2 looks pretty fun.
Drawbacks: It's very expensive. $225 plus $27 for the student materials. 
Advantage: Everything is included. Very little planning is required for the parent. Kids like it. 

I hope this was helpful. 

Sunday, March 04, 2012

now and then

I took these 2 pictures basically in the same spot about 12 months apart. I can not believe how she has grown in what seems like such a short amount of time.
I took this one specifically for my dad to hang up in his hospital room. I can not believe how time has passed so quickly.

She looks like such a big girl. And I suppose she is on her way. She can now ride a bike, tie her shoe and make her own lunch (her words).  What does she need me for? HA!