Our Math This Year: Math-U-See

OurmaththisyearI am on my 8th year of teaching with Math-U-See. And so far this year has been my easiest! Last year was my hardest. But that is true for just about everything.

I have three in Math-U-See. Beta, Gamma, and Pre-Alegbra. And so far they all say their math is easy this year. Last year they complained the whole year how hard it was. I don’t know what changed?

How we Math-U-See.

On Monday everyone watches our favorite teacher. That would not be me! It works best for them to watch the video. They are visual learners. And having the online lesson instead of relying on keeping the DVD in the same spot has been WONDERFUL!! I can have them all watching their lessons at the same time -two on the iPads and one of the computer! Although my oldest doesn’t do his math at the same time as the younger ones. The only thing I hope Math-U-See will work on is an app for these digital online lessons, so the kids can get to them instead me having to log into my account on the iPad. They also do two of the lesson sheets on Monday.11862958_10204610974770546_424085121_o
Robby, my 8th grader this year, does one sheet- if he gets 100% he may take the test. If he gets a 100% he moves to the next lesson.
Tuesday-Thursday my two other kids do two sheets. Unless I see the sheets are stressing Isaiah out, then he does one. AnnieQ finished one lesson-all sheets in 2 days. It was easy for her (besides getting stuck on a word problem that went something like this: there are 10 oranges in each bag. How many bags do you need for 50 oranges? She finally did get it- I had her draw it. She just didn’t know why some one would want so many oranges!!)

Friday is to be test day. I typically don’t do test because my style of grading is they have to keep correcting their mistakes. By Thursday the sheets they do are correct the first time. If they are not, then I pull more practice sheets from their Worksheet generator on line. I also use the test sheets too.  But by then they know how to do the lesson.

11259771_10204691216416537_1498742017_oOne area that my kids do not do well with is memorizing facts. AnnieQ is in 4th grade, but doing 3rd grade level math. I did that on purpose cause 1st grade she screamed with every lesson. Every one.  So I stopped math. All together. And restarted the next year. Last year she was still counting on her hands. We still struggled. But still had concepts down.  I used online drills both from Math-U-See and MathBoard. And something happened this year. She knows them. She is not counting on her fingers. I have to remind myself that my kids have early childhood trauma. Their brains are still growing and connecting differently than other children. This has made learning a little harder for them. And homeschooling challenging for me. While AnnieQ may be 4th grade her brain is functioning at a 2nd-3rd grader level. But you met her and she will wow you with her personality!! 

But I am seeing them move faster now. So as we head toward multiplication I feel that this was the year for her to learn them unlike if she was in public school and she would have had to learn them in 3rd grade. She has a much stronger base going forward now. We have conquered 0,1,2’s so far!! 

Isaiah is doing much better this year too! Last year he had a hard time with just addition of 0’s and 1’s. Imagine my frustration!! But he is memorizing the facts, even listening to AnnieQ’s lesson’s and understanding them!!

What’s New this Year?

Last year I bought the Math-U-See App. It was a great addition to our program. AnnieQ has sensory issues and the feel of the blocks got to her. I got the wooden organizer which helped her. But now she doesn’t even have to feel them! Isaiah likes the blocks, but also like the app. Robby has not needed them yet this year, he does a lot in his brain. But it is coming. I have three sets of the Algebra blocks…. I am not sure how that happened. But he has used them before and when I taught Algebra 5 years ago we used them then.11884208_10204610827006852_926965581_o

I love the digital packs they have now!! We always lost the DVD’s. No matter how much I had it organized-that DVD disappeared. I am thinking sometimes, the kids made them disappear!! LOL But now- no excuses!! And I love all the extra sheets that are there to download, and the fun songs are there to listen too! Worth checking it out!

I had a friends 9 years ago say if you are going to homeschool you have to look at Math-U-See. I watched the intro DVD and then ordered for my first year homeschooling our son. I have taught since then I think 18 math classes over the years. Some years I have not taught or we have taken a break. But we love Math-U-See.  

And having to do 3rd grade public school math homework now with one of our foster loves I appreciate Math-U-See more!! 

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How I Teach Upside Down Children Fine Arts


I just bought Vivaldi: The Four Seasons.  The music is filling the area.  Babies are babbling to the notes.  This is how I teach fine arts.  I have no set curriculum.  I am not against one, just really never found one.

We follow the list of artist and composer from Ambleside online  Every three months the kids are exposed to a different ones.  

AnnieQ sings all the time.  She can hear a song once and know it.  She sings and makes up words all the time.  I have apps on the iPad that teach them music theory-when they want to learn it.

They learned the basics of the recorder by just learning and reading about it.

Here is where some of the big sensory issues come to play.  When I give Isaiah and AnnieQ water paints to paint with.  AnnieQ will very carefully paint something.  Isaiah will end up with it as finger paints.  AnnieQ hates to have her hands dirty.  She cannot handle the feel of things like wet grass.  Isaiah could care less.  More the mess the better.

We were at a wedding a few months ago.  AnnieQ was on the go moving and dancing.  Isaiah could not transition into that dancing mode-even though he dances all the time at home.  For him there were too many people and it was too loud.  He sat by me the whole time.

Isaiah does better at sports like gymnastics than baseball, but is good at both.  Baseball is too slow in the outfield for him and he does not handle that fast transitions when batting with the outs.  But boy he can hit the ball.  Isaiah moves all the time, bounces and spins.  And is my upside down child always flipping over this and that. In baseball he was the one doing cartwheels (he wasn’t the only one!:)) But with Isaiah you have to really understand him and how he works to get him to do stuff.  He is a great helper and has a HUGE servant heart.  So if another teacher scoop him into a helper stage then he is good to go.  If they don’t engage him right away, we may not be able to leave him some place.

His most favorite place though is The Little Gym.  The two boys took class last year.  This year I didn’t due to Government sequesters I cut a few extras and that was one.  But tonight is parents night out and we parents-need a night out!  I always said if I could find an all day school that functioned like Little Gym I would be willing to send Isaiah there because that is what he needs.  Up and Down, on the go, balanced with some sit down.

AnnieQ takes dances.  We goto Steps of Faith which is a Christian Dance studio. We LOVE it.  They dance to good classical music and contemporary Christian music. They just performed Narnia at Christmas time.  She enjoys dance a lot.  She picks it up very quick and sometimes doesn’t pay attention cause she thinks she’s got it. ( I watch through the glass)

As far as art is concerned, I put different media’s in front of them and they create.  It may try to look like the artist they have seen.  We may have taken a trip to the art museum and they saw something there.

Music we listen from anything from classical to rap.  Toby Mac to Bach.  My kids know many different kinds of various instruments and how orchestras work.  This is just from learning as we go.  We have taken music classes, art classes and loved both too.

Yesterday was AnnieQ’s birthday.  We decided to give her a Nano so she can listen to music to do some task that overwhelm her.  I have put on both fun music and classic music.  There is Bach, Peter and The Wolf, and the Vivaldi Four Seasons.  Also the soundtrack to Frozen (I may have to let that one go:)) I found an old shuffle for Isaiah that I have used with him in the past.  So I guess we will see how this works.

I am in day 5 of a 5 day series. Day 1 I  blogged about how I homeschool my upside down kids Language Arts. Day 2 was about Math. Day 3 was Science. Day 4 was History.

Check out these other homeschooling families and how they teach Language Arts.

Hopscotch with us January 13-17 as we share a round of posts detailing how exactly we teach within our specific niches.

Day 1: how I teach language arts
Day 2: how I teach math
Day 3: how I teach science
Day 4: how I teach history
Day 5: how I teach fine arts



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How I Teach Upside Down Children History


Last year we sorta unschooled history and geography.  No curriculum.  We started off our year off with a trip to New York City, cruised to Canada, trip to the Liberty Bell and back home.  From there the kids just though of stuff they wanted to learn and learned it. We used living books and Google to learn from and videos, live Drive Through History, to broaden our horizon. It worked.
With both older boys I’ve used a Charlotte Mason approach to teach History. I’ve used Beautiful Feet for many years and also have used the resources from History Heritage.
Small lessons. Living books. Notebooking.

This year I tried to used Early American History with the two younger ones and Robby was wanting to Study Ancient Greek History.   I really felt like it was not going well.

Let me pause for a moment.

Here is what I wanted my day to look like.

But really my day may look like this:
6:30-my alarm goes off.
Either my husband or I have already been up with babies hours before.
I attempt to get dress and 1 cup of coffee. And brace for kids.

6-8am emerge children. They can be happy or cheerful or I should back up.  I can simply ask for one to get dress or feed the cat-and we can spiral into a 30 screaming fit just because that task was just too much for that moment.
Just one thing not right -like vitamins not at the right moment-can throw them into a screaming and running through the house.

Even what they wear can be an issue.  Pants, socks and shoes are always an issues.

Other mornings-dress, chores, fed with out one melt down or concern. You don’t know.

I start school with two little ones. I’ve moved them to the kitchen tables things work better with the babies. Two working. Isaiah tapping his foot. AnnieQ screaming “stop it.”  Me- not sure what is wrong. Isaiah doesn’t know. I settle them down. Foot taps-screaming-Isaiah makes the connection-more foot tapping-more screaming. Momma calming them down again and more coffee.

This is now one subject. Me -moving them along. Math -science-lang arts.  Something will be bothering Isaiah.  His clothes are not right.  Too much noise.  My breath is too much for him.  AnnieQ can end up on the floor like a rag doll screaming about I don’t know what.

I turn grab another cup of coffee and then try it all again.  Robby is pretty much self guided (thank goodness!!!) but will come and ask questions when needed. So some subject my kids do better at than others.  Some they don’t.  The way I had history set up this year just didn’t work.  It was too much for them and too much for me.  So I moved to Alpha Omega for all three.  I could use Beautiful Feet with Robby-I have all the books and such.  But I went with easy for me.

Two weeks in and I have to say it is working well.  We can still use the shorter lessons for Isaiah, AnnieQ is thriving off the worksheets, and Robby says it is too easy for him so he is happy.  AnnieQ and Isaiah are starting out with learning about themselves  and families. Plus the 1st grade teacher book came with a lot of extra stuff for the kids to do-Isaiah likes the cutting instead of worksheets.  AnnieQ is not so great a cutting.    It was a good starting place for us.

BUT “history” for me doesn’t stop there.  I guess regardless if they were homeschooled or went to a school away from me I would think this was important to learning about our local history and our family history along with American and World History.

Like the other day Isaiah and I was driving back from the Doctors office and drove by this house.  He made me stop so he could take this picture.



This is one of the older homes in Huntsville.  I was talking to him about how the downtown area us to be the main area of Huntsville.  He wanted to know how lived there, who built the house, where did the family work.  I found out a bit through Facebook friends.

Family history is very important to me.  I want my kids to know where our family comes from. We have history of family who fought in the Civil War & WW2.  My great grand father designed the rose gardens for Mr Heresy.  I have a Great Aunt-Anna Keichline– who was a secret agent in the WW2 along with being the first women architect in Pennsylvania.  My great grand father was a sheriff, mayor and own early Ford dealerships.  It is important that my kids know this history too.  Learned through visiting and stories and seeing pictures.

Pictures are very important for my kids.  It is a visual thing.  Also being adopted they have a need to look more.

I am in day 4 of a 5 day series. Day 1 I  blogged about how I homeschool my upside down kids Language Arts. Day 2 was about Math. Day 3 was Science.

Check out these other homeschooling families and how they teach Language Arts.

Hopscotch with us January 13-17 as we share a round of posts detailing how exactly we teach within our specific niches.

Day 1: how I teach language arts
Day 2: how I teach math
Day 3: how I teach science
Day 4: how I teach history
Day 5: how I teach fine arts




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10 Methods of Homeschooling that May Not Work You But Does for Us.

10 Methods of Homeschooling that May Not Work You But Does for Us.

1.    Homeschooling became a possibility when we saw how the homeschooling children in our church interacted with adults and with each other.  It impressed me.  While that is not a “method” it was enough to turn my head and make me wonder what was up with that.  I was having adults come up to me and ask me “How do we make these youth talk to the adults?”  My response was simple, “You have to start young.”  In our society we separate our kids, our families too much.  This bothered me.  As a DCE working in a church I knew there was something more I could do.  As things played out, it began with my family.  As I stopped working, homeschooling seemed right and we set forward to have our children interact with as many people as we could.

As children come in and out of our house, some attend public schools.  We deal with it.  I love our public schools here.  They have served us well with our foster children bending over back wards to get the services that they needed.

2.    I read a book from Dr. James Dobson Bringing up Boys.  He made note that public schools made a shift from being good for boys to being great for girls.  He suggested homeschooling boys because boys need more moving time and outside time.  I agreed and it just started to confirm our beliefs that homeschooling would be good for us.   Last year I sent my little girl to Kindergarden, she loved it.  It was set up for girls, and it was the little boys that the teacher had a hard time with.  For an adoptive family this time is also a great time for bonding and growing together.

3.    As I was researching I ran across a book by Karen Andreola titled Charlotte Mason Companion.  I was hooked.   I started researching everything Mason for a while.  These were they key things I took from Charlotte Mason

  • Shorter lessons
  • Nature walks
  • Study Artist a year
  • Study composers a year
  • Living books
  • Creating Habit

4.    I also realized that I have some Classical style to me.  I wanted my kids to learn some Latin.  As I studied more I learned of the Trivium which is from the Latin prefix “Tri” meaning “three.”  These three stages made sense to me: Grammar, Dialectic, Rhetoric.

5.   Lutheran Catechismbeing raised in the Lutheran Church and a DCE I believe that Martin Luther wrote the Catechism for parents to teach their kids, not just for pastors or DCE’s to teach their students.  So starting in my home is the best place to start this.

6.   I was also intrigued by the concept with Montessori’s  ideas.  I loved just putting various items out and letting my son pick what he was going to do.

7.   Unschooling-Self guided.  While we don’t really follow this method, this style has given me a sense of relax when things get crazy and we need to let go of our schedule for a bit.  You would be surprised how much the kids really want to learn when given free time to do it!

8.   Disneyschooling-is this a method?  If not, I just made it one.  We do a lot of schooling there.  It is like a HUGH living text-book.  We do Disney at least 2-3 times a year.

9.   Online Resourcesinformation is only a finger tip away!   Some only use the internet.  We use ours for information.  If we don’t know something we Google it.  We watch YouTube Videos.  We love Netflix.  One days that momma doesn’t feel good it becomes a computer/TV day.  It works for us.

10.   When I started High school Homeschool it challenged everything I knew about homeschooling.  I loved Charlotte Mason.  But how to bring that into High school-for a child who hasn’t been homeschooled before, for a child who had only been in our home for a few years.    With some growing pains the first year we finally found  Alpha Omega’s LIfepacs and that has been our high school method.  It works for us.

I think the key to all this is that you do what is best for your family.  All this works for us.  We fall back on Charlotte Mason as our main way of schooling.  But we are not die-hard Charlotte Mason homeschoolers.  I had to adjust for my high schooler.  We do what works for our family and we reevaluate every year.    For us people also influenced why we homeschooled.  If it wasn’t for these families, we may never had even started the adventure in homeschooling.


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Books, books and more BOOKS!

We have too many books. And not enough space! I love books! I love old books. Books tells stories, give details, paint pictures.

We have a lot of kids books. Because we homeschool we have more than normal amount of books. This was the week I went through 75% of the kids books. I know more are hiding!

We organize our bookshelves twice a year. And homeschooling books once a year. After last year with our two foster boys things still are being put back together.

So I had kids bring all books from their rooms and here is what I started with on Monday!






Two garbage bags of trash and broken books. All board books packed away for an other little one one day.

Here it is after I was done. We are blessed with wonderful built ins that I love to fill with books!
I use baskets to break them up and for smaller books. I have all bible books in spot. All readers I got news bins for and separated them.





Ok so I didn’t get to the top! And I still have MORE BOOKS!!!!

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Summer Art by Kids

Today I had a headache.  While I was at the store I had to wait a few minutes to get my medicine.  So we made our way to the arts and craft section.  I allowed each to get some paints and brushes, and glitter paint.  This was the BEST thing.  It kept them busy ALL day!  Of course all the paint and glitter is gone, but they had a blast!  They wanted to make a video to talk about their art!  So here is Isaiah and AnnieQ’s Summer Art!

Ok so maybe a little too much Disney in our house LOL!

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My Kid’s Top 10 Read Aloud Books that Mommy must make Funny Voices For

Well I love books.  I wonder how many time I have said that?  Right now my living room is a mess with books every where.  And that is just the kids books.  I am putting up the board books for now.  My kids are too old (sniff sniff), but who knows when a new little one will be around in this house.  I purged a large garbage bag full of broken and torn books.  By Friday I will share with you all our book transformation!

But today is our 10 in 10, where homeschool moms from all over are sharing 10 things in 10 weeks.  This week-10 read aloud books.  So my kids picked “books that mommy has to make funny voices in.”  Oh and I love to make those funny voices!  “the mouse tip toed into the kitchen past the sleeping cat, straight to the cheese.  When suddenly CRASH! The dog comes running in, knocking the table over waking the cat, who saw the mouse….. Well it’s more fun to read with the fun words and fonts!

So they picked their books, scaled them down to 10, and made a simple little movie.  Which due to technical difficulty, I did the next best thing, I made a video of the video.


Hopefully I can figure out more about Windows Live Movie maker and how to really import movies!  Robby’s idea was awesome!  We wants to make Lego movies!

Our list again:

  1. Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner-Skippyjon Jones is a Siamese cat who thinks he is a Chihuahua! A fun story for a little guy sent to his room with a great imagination!  The story is filled with fun words, rhymes, and a little action here and there.  Insert a bit of a Spanish accent that sways to an English accent by accident and it is a pretty funny story.   By the time I am done reading this book I am exhausted and the kids are saying more one more time!
  2. Stomp, Dinosaur, Stomp! by Margaret Mayo-This books has great Dinosaur words and great action words.  Half the time momma can’t say the names and the little ones can!  Really “Ankylocaurus!”
  3. Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss-Classic-
  4. Bedhead by Margie Palatini- Poor Oliver woke up with way out of control terrible horrible bed head.  And out of all days it’s picture day at school.  This book is filled with awesome action words that are great when you got little ones with cury crazy hair also!
  5. One Drowsy Dragon by Ethan Long- This dragon wants to take a nap.  But too much play is being done!  Actions sounds-click-whoosh-clink.  By ten see who is asleep!
  6. Zing! Zing! Zing! a Violin by Lloyd Moss-This book takes you inside an orchestra with different instruments and all the sounds they make.  Very playful and whimsical.
  7. Hello, Robots by Bob Staake-This is an engineer book.  colors, sounds, just right.  My 10-year-old loved this book.
  8. I Love You Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt-What if-I still would love you.  This is a conversation between a child and momma.  You can get big and loud when reading and soft and snuggly.
  9. Edward the Emu by Sheena Knowles-This poor guy always wants to be some one else cause he thinks he is bored.  The grass is always greener on the other side.  Lots of animal sounds going on here!
  10. Hedgie Blasts Off! by Jan Brett-Hedgie wants to be an astronaut.  But he just cleans up things.  Due to certain events he gets to save the day and blast off to space!

What is your favorite read aloud book?

Don’t forget to check out our summer reading!

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Education is….

As I evaluate what we are doing in High school I realize that I have not embraced my educational beliefs yet but what I feel the public school dictate.  With Robby it is easy for follow our Charlotte Mason style, although not perfect we have follow that style.  I have not figured out how to incorporate that into high school with my son.  So I have been reading more into Charlotte Mason, and while some things I don’t fully agree with…I do most.

Education is an Atmosphere…”it is not meant that a child should be isolated but should be in “child environment.”  A child can not live in a box, but need to experience the world, talk to people all different ages, and not just sit at home.  The home environment should encourage the child in wanting to learn.  The child should be encouraged to explore the world, experience the world.
….in today world the computer can give the child the world, but is not the world.  This month we were unable to attend any of our homeschooling events.  I believe that we need to attend more things outside of sitting at home…these are learning opportunities.  Daily outside time is important and while easy for the young kids, the older one not so much.  So we need to work on this, as a family.

Education is a Discipline…”the discipline of habits formed definitely and thoughtfully, whether habit of mind or body”  Discipline and habits…two areas we need to refocus.  I could write a lot on this cause I first have to show how I am disciplined and how I form habits…
….as we define our home education program we need to create better habits…and we need to be disciplined.  I feel that as this fall goes we need to define our day more and get into a better schedule.  This will benefit us all in the future.

Education is a Life  “the need of intellectual and moral as well of physical sustenance is implied.  The mind feeds on ideas, and therefore children should have a generous curriculum.”
…I feel our schools are limited in terms of what they “have to teach”.   “A child’s mind is no mere sac to hold ideas;” but if allowed a child will have an “appetite for all knowledge”

Education is the Science of Relations “that a child has natural relations with a vast number of things and thoughts; so we must train him upon physical exercises, nature, handicrafts, science and art, and upon many living books.”
…One of the things that applied to me about Charlotte Mason was her views on books.  We try to steer clear of text books.  I have guides that tell me what they should read and do.  Each lesson I try to do short and to the point.  This has not worked so well with the teenager.  High school has many challenges with it.  There are a few things I would change.  But for now I have to work with and adapt what I have.

So as I ponder these things, I am going to shift high school more this way.  Among other things, I feel that we will get through with the best possible educational experience possible…one to be built upon.

Read and quoted from Charlotte Mason’s Volume 4: Ourselves.  To learn more about the Charlotte Mason education goto Amblesideonline.

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