“Seven Days Are in a Week” (Abeka Song)

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In teaching my first grader with the Abeka homeschooling curriculum, we came upon this song in the most recent edition of their arithmetic material. I am not sure if there is a CD with this song available from Abeka, but even if there is, I don’t have it. I do, however, have a fourteen year old, piano-loving son. He was kind enough to play this song for me a few times so I could learn it and sing it with Matthew. I asked him if he would allow me to record it for any other moms out there who might like to learn it, but (like me) can’t play the piano. You can find the music in the back of the homeschool curriculum guide.

Here are the lyrics:

Seven days are in a week, Sunday church with our families.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday we’re off to school.

Saturday we play with friends, ride our bikes and clean our rooms.

Count the days of which we speak, seven days are in a week.


Thanks, Mitch, for doing me such a great favor!

I don’t usually request that anyone share my blog posts (but I always appreciate it), however, if you could share this one, or the video on YouTube, I would be most grateful. I hope it might be a help to other moms out there.

Thanks for being here!

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Our Week in Review

I do believe I’m finally finding a rhythm in our school day. And just think! It only took three weeks! The first week I felt nauseated, ate little, had trouble sleeping, and had a horrendous backache. The next week, I had sleeping and eating issues, but no back pain. This week, no back pain, no eating trouble (sadly) and less trouble sleeping. I’m still having trouble getting up thirty minutes earlier so I have time to hit the gym – and clean up – before school. There’s something about getting up at 5:30 as opposed to 6:00 that just gets me. Hopefully I can make that adjustment soon, too. Especially since my appetite has returned. 😉

Here are some highlights from last week:

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This is a collage of three photos of the pirate ship at our library. The children’s section is getting a much needed face lift. This ship is being built in honor of our wonderful Miss Heather, who died last May.

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I hit an all-time distance and calorie burn record in thirty minutes on the elliptical. (But, since I didn’t get up at 5:30, I was about 15 minutes late starting school.) The best part was that I was able to walk out after this.

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Our church sponsored a tent meeting to reach the Native Americans in our area. This meeting was a great success and isn’t over yet – a brand new church is being gathered to reach various tribes of Native Americans in our area. If you think of it, please pray for  the Lawton Indian Baptist Church! The Gospel isn’t just an important thing, it’s the main thing!

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We began our year with high hopes for our math curriculum. I’ve used Saxon Math for four years and have been very pleased. We had planned on using Saxon again for Lauren’s Advanced Math and Mitchell’s pre-Algebra (Algebra 1/2). When Lauren attempted the Advanced Math, we realized a hard fact: we would have little time for other subjects due to the four + hours that she would be spending on math alone. After prayer and discussion, we decided to try Math U See for her geometry. I have used Math U See in the past for elementary and it just didn’t work. The pace was too slow. After watching sample lessons of this material, however, I think it will work well. Now, why am I switching Mitch? Well, that’s easy: I bought the wrong materials for him! I bought the wrong edition of the text book – or of the test book, answer key and CD Rom – whichever way you want to look at it. My cost would be the same whether I bought new materials from Saxon or Math U See, so we decided to let him use Math U See as well. He was having to spend a lot of time on math last year, so perhaps this will be quicker for him. A huge blessing in all of this was that I was able to sell our Advanced Math materials on Ebay and recoup some of my investment. An added blessing was that it sold in 1 hour! I have yet to determine what to do with Mitchell’s books. I suppose I will sell them, or some of them, in the future. All of this, no doubt, has been part of the reason for my high-stress level the first few weeks. We begin using Math U See tomorrow! {fingers crossed}

Here is a glimpse of what Matthew did last week:

In the first video, he is quoting his first poem of K5 from memory.

In the second video, he is quoting his memory verse for the week, Psalm 139:14.

When I played the video back for him, he said, “I sound like a child!” Oh boy, he keeps me laughing!

I have enjoyed a nice leisurely day today so far, for Labor Day. I have done laundry, written some notes, had lunch with my main man, and am about to write some lesson plans and a grocery list. I hope to squeeze in some reading, too. I’m currently reading To the Golden Shore, a biography of Adoniram Judson and When Comes the Spring, the second book in the Canadian West Series by Janette Oke. I read all of the Canadian West Series when I was a young teen, but Lauren’s great-grandma gave them to her so I’m enjoying re-reading them. I have always liked Janette Oke’s books.

Oh! Last week I celebrated – minus the actual “celebration” –  my 8th year of blogging. Hard to believe I’ve been rambling for that long…okay, so maybe it’s not hard to believe. 😉 By way of irrelevant information, this is my 1,193rd post on this blog.

Thank you for reading. Whether you’re a new visitor or an old friend, I’m so glad you’re here.

With love,

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A Few Math Reviews

I admit it: I hate, no, I despise math! This strong dislike began when I started learning the multiplication facts in third grade. Our Christian school had a skeleton crew, so drilling and practice wasn’t enforced with regularity. I also failed to memorize addition and subtraction facts until I was much older…like, when I started teaching my oldest child to memorize them! There were plenty of opportunities to apply myself and learn math better over my educational years, but I decided reading and writing would be so much more fun! So, that’s what I did.

Enter, homeschooling.

When I began teaching our daughter, who is now entering the 8th grade, I used a packaged curriculum which was more advanced in math than what I had used as a youngster. By the fourth grade, I was worn out! We had to drill constantly with this program! Not just addition and subtraction, but also multiplication and division! There were a zillion steps to teach for each math concept, visuals galore and then I had to have other manipulatives besides! Felt animals & shapes, counters, number flashcards, felt numbers, coins and on and on. Then, there were papers to grade and tests to administer.

Exit, exhausted mom and sad daughter.

I began searching for something else, something better, and preferably affordable. I searched, and searched. I’ve tried many math programs over the last nine years of my homeschooling career (Hey! I have a career!), and I thought I would share them with you in the hopes that it might help other moms who hate math as much as I do.

Allow me to say here that drilling is necessary for the mastery of basic math facts. There’s no way around it. However, there are other ways to do it besides spending half an hour flipping cards or reciting facts aloud. There is an app available for the Kindle Fire (and other electronic devices, too, but I use the Fire) that is a flashcard program. It can be set for all four operations. It cost me a dollar. It’s been the best dollar I’ve ever spent. There are also worksheets that can be purchased or printed that are designed for timed practice. These are excellent options which will free up the busy mom of one, or ten!

So, without further ado, here are the programs I’ve used, in the order in which they appeared in our classroom.

Abeka 
Overview: This is a great program for the mom who enjoys being with their student during the entire math lesson. They have detailed lesson plans that tell you exactly what to say, what to do, what to think. Okay, not what to think. Just checkin’ to be sure you’re awake, after all, this is a post about math! 😉 They have diagrams and examples and step-by-step instructions on how to introduce the new concept. There may be a song, poem or motions to teach your child.
Each day begins with the speed drill (1st grade and up). Next, practice flashcards. After that, teach the lesson. This may include a game, or an object, or just chalkboard work. Often, the plans encourage you to use objects. This is great, but time consuming. Lastly, your child does the workbook pages. This is one page for Kindergarten, two for first grade and above.
What I liked: The lesson guides were very clear. My daughter mastered her facts quickly and we felt very smart because we were advancing at a nice pace. It was very thorough.
What I didn’t like: The amount of time I had to be there to watch over her or help her. As she progressed, and as I added children, the time I spent teaching math consumed my life. The workbooks are not self explanatory. Also, the books do not review very well. You may learn a new concept in lesson 47, review it till lesson 54, then not see it again until lesson 108.
Summary: Because I couldn’t afford the cost of a mental hospital, I decided to see what else was out there.

BJUPress
This was my first attempt at moving to a curriculum that gave me more free time. Boy, did I blow it! BJUPress is very much like Abeka! In fact, aside from a few terms that were different (they use the term “re-grouping” when Abeka used  borrow and carry, for instance), they were exactly like them! The teacher must explain every lesson. They also have lesson guides, but I found them harder to follow than Abeka’s. I can’t give a decent review because when I realized what I’d done, I sold it all on Ebay! (I had purchased it used, thank the Lord!)

ACE (School of Tomorrow)
Overview: Each grade consists of twelve workbooks, called PACEs. The student sets a goal of pages to complete, each PACE should take about 3 weeks to complete. The student reads the instructions in the PACE, does the problems, scores said problems and that’s that. Well, that’s supposed to be how it works.
What I liked: The independent way in which the work could be completed! I loved that my children could take the pace, read it, do it, grade it and leave me completely out of it.
What I didn’t like: The tears from my children. The way they came to me for help all. the. time. The way I couldn’t follow their instructions, and being weak in math, couldn’t really help them. I could see the answer in the key, but not always the complete solution.
Summary: The children’s overwhelming discouragement, along with my own, forced me to look for greener pastures.

Math-U-See
Overview: The raves that I’d heard over this program made it a logical choice. There is a DVD with a short lesson for the parent to view and then teach to the student themselves, or for the student to view on their own. They have these awesome blocks to illustrate the concepts. They build, step-by-step. Each year focuses on one operation. For instance, first the student works on addition. This would probably be first grade, but can be done any year. The books are named after the Greek alphabet rather than grade level. Next is a book on subtraction, then multiplication, division, fractions, decimals, etc.
What I liked: The fact they could watch the lesson and then do the problems. The lessons were very quick and easy, which made my children happy. The younger ones loved the blocks…to play with them, that is. 😉
What I didn’t like: My one child who is good at math was bored! Both of my older children didn’t want to use the blocks. Even my first grader didn’t like them, viewing them as “one more thing to do”. The children grew bored doing the same concept over and over even when I let them move on when they’d mastered a concept. A few of the teacher’s lessons were very confusing. I’d watch them over and over and still didn’t get what he was saying. The same was true for my daughter. Did I mention I was poor at math? Yeah, I thought so. This might be why I didn’t understand a few of the lessons.
Summary: I was blessed to get some of these books for free from a friend, and I happily passed them on to others who can benefit from their use better than I.

Saxon DIVE CD
Overview: This is a traditional program. It does not rely on the teacher to explain the lessons, but that is probably the best way to do it. This program builds incrementally, much like Math-U-See, but reviews more than any other program I’ve tried. I tried to teach the lessons myself to my 7th grader, but quickly became bogged down. That’s when I purchased the DIVE CD. It was a life saver! The teacher explains each Saxon lesson and then the student does the problems in the book. The titles for the books are a bit confusing. The last number in the book name tells you the grade. So, Saxon math 8/7 is the seventh grade book. 5/4, or 54 is the fourth grade book, and so on.
What I liked: The constant review of previous lessons! Why learn so much math if you’re not going to use it consistently? The teacher for the DIVE lessons is very through and easy to follow. I also like that they do a timed speed drill sheet each day.
What I didn’t like: There are a lot of problems in each lesson. It often takes my daughter (doing the 8/7 book) three hours to complete a lesson – viewing the CD and working homework. The grading is often tedious, as well. There are 30 problems, and it’s not uncommon for them to have 3 or more problems within a problem. Bleck.
Summary: The jury still out on Saxon. As of now, I’m planning to go forward with it.

Life of Fred
Overview: Meet Fred Gauss (rhymes with “house”), a five year old college professor, who teaches math like no one ever has. Stanley Schmidt, Ph.D., has written an entire math curriculum which is a story. A story with math problems included. We see Fred use math in his everyday life, and we learn why he’s using it, too! It’s truly a unique curriculum. The author is hilarious! Honestly, I love reading his books just for the humor of it. They are hardback books that can be re-used over and over. For more information, go HERE.
What I liked: The cost – books range in price from $16 – $39! That’s cheap! I liked (really, really liked) that my daughter wanted to do the book. She finished the Fractions book in a little over a month. I stopped using Fred for a while, because it didn’t feel like work, so it couldn’t be any good. (Yes, that was my reason. Math must be hated. It must be loathed. So, this couldn’t be math!) I was wrong but wouldn’t know it for a while. It happened like this:

My oldest daughter struggled with fractions for a long time, that’s why I paid the $19 for the fractions book from Fred. She worked it. She loved it. I thought I’d wasted my money. Then, we switched over to yet another curriculum (from above list). She worked fraction problems – long, drawn out, complicated, made-her-mother-want-to-cry-just-grading-them kind of fraction problems! And she never missed one. Ever.

I said, “Wow! You are a pro at fractions! I’ve never been good at them and I’m intimidated by them even today. I’m so proud of you!”

Her reply? “Life of Fred.”
Me: “What?” (said in shock)
Lauren: “Life of Fred. He taught me fractions, that’s why I know them.”

Wow.

What I didn’t like: Not a thing.
Summary: We use Fred periodically, but not solely. I may change my mind on that, however. My daughter is now struggling with decimals, so guess what we’re doing this summer? 🙂  I’m planning on using the Apples book with my Kindergartener and second grader this year, just to see how it goes. I’ll keep you posted. 🙂
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Math-U-See is for Everyone!

I just wanted to share a few photos and a little video of my youngest kids enjoying the Math-U-See math manipulatives, aka, blocks! This is our first experience with this curriculum and so far, we give it 2 thumbs up! 
Even my 7 month old joined in the fun! haha!

 Enjoying play time/ learning time. 🙂

 Smile and say “Quadratic Equation!”  😉

Okay, this is more play time than actual school time, but I say it still counts as learning. 🙂

 Matthew says, “Hmm, what’s this?”
 “Yep, they make noise when I smack ’em together.”

“They make good drumsticks, too!”

“And they even pass the “feels good to my gums” test! These are keepers!” 

He was playing so sweetly with them, I just had to try to get a short video of the moment. And, no, I didn’t let him have the itty-bitty ones! 🙂

Starting to *finally* love teaching math,
Valerie