Eva Marina Homeschools

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Curriculum Review | Horizons Math K

We have been using Horizons Math this year and couldn’t be happier.  I really like that it uses a spiral approach to teaching and reviewing concepts.  There are a total of 160 lessons.  Each lesson consists of a two sided page, usually broken down into four or five sections. 

Here is the Scope & Sequence for Level K:
  1. Counting 1-100 (Counting by 1’s, 5’s, 10’s, 2’s, 3’s, 4’s to 100)
  2. Number Recognition (Recognition of all families to 100)
  3. Number writing (Writing of all families to 100)
  4. Number value (Value of all single digit numbers)
  5. Number After (Naming the number that comes after for all families to 100)
  6. Number Before (Naming the number that comes before for all families to 100)
  7. Number Between (Naming the number that comes between for all families to 100)
  8. Place Value (Digit value: ones, tens)
  9. Addition (Adding a single digit to all families without regrouping)
  10. Subtraction (Subtracting a single digit to all families without regrouping)
  11. Money (Recognition, value, and use of the penny, nickel, dime, quarter, half dollar, dollar bill and dollar coin)
  12. Time (Naming time on the hour, half-hour, quarter-hour and 5 minutes)
  13. Calendar (Naming the days of the week, the months of the year and the seasons)
  14. Number Theory (Recognition of ordinal numbers, even and odd numbers)
  15. Colors (Recognition of black, yellow, green, red, blue, brown, orange and purple)
  16. Shapes (Recognition of circle, square, triangle, rectangle, diamond, star, hexagon, octagon, cone, sphere and cylinder)
  17. Comparisons (Comparisons of items and quantities that are different, pairs, twins, belong together, tall, short, long, larger number and smaller number)
  18. Direction & Position (Recognition of the direction and position of right, left, up, down, top, bottom, middle, inside, outside, first, next, last, front and back)
  19. Graphs (Read and complete bar graphs and pictographs)
  20. Measurement (Reading lengths in inches and centimeters, perimeter in inches)
  21. Units of Measure (Identify and count cup, quart, gallon and liter)
  22. Fractions (Recognize whole, 1/2, 1/3 and1/4)
  23. Sequence (Determine what comes next)
You can download some sample pages (usually the first few lessons) from AOP’s website.  Here are a few more samples for you.

There is a lot of variety within the lessons.  Ignacio likes to write surprise messages to me within his assignments.  :)

We worked on Lesson 146 today.

I’d say it’s pretty well rounded.  It is challenging, but doable.  There are at times a lot of problems, but you don’t have to complete them all.  I usually mark the ones I want him to complete.  If he gets one wrong, he corrects it and completes an additional problem.  He really likes it and sometimes even completes more problems than I assigned.  I’d rather have the option of completing more problems if necessary than having to supplement what should be a complete curriculum. 

The Teacher’s Manual offers a detailed overview, list of necessary materials and supplies, teaching tips, and activities for each lesson.  It is not necessary at this level, but can be helpful when introducing new concepts.  It also includes 40 reproducible worksheets which can be used as a review or assessment. 

The full curriculum might be considered expensive, at $69.95.  I bought my set on eBay for $36 including shipping.  It was in like new condition with absolutely no writing on it.

I should mention that Horizons is a Christian publisher.  I try to only use secular curriculum, but found that the Christian references in their math series were minimal.  We will be using them again next year.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

2012 Science Fair / Art Show

Our homeschooling group hosts a Science Fair/Art Show on the last meeting of the school year.  This was the first year that we attended.  Ignacio initially wanted his entire project on Betelgeuse, his favorite star.  Honestly, I couldn’t think of what we could do as the actual project so I suggested we broaden it to include all stars.

  1. He came up with this awesome title all by himself!  The middle panel had random star facts and a size chart to compare multiple stars to planets in our solar system.  We also made an outer space word search puzzle and brought in books to show what Orion and the Orion Nebula really look like.
  2. Our actual experiment was very simple.  We shaped a half circle out of clay and stuck a paperclip in it.  Then we stuck star stickers onto a clear glass bowl.  The clay represents the Earth and the paperclip represents the child.  You hold the glass bowl slightly above the base and slowly turn the cardboard.  Make sure to point out where the different stars are in relation to the paperclip.  This is a simple way to demonstrate that stars do not move.  Stars only appear to move because the Earth spins on its axis.  I found this project in Janice VanCleave's Solar System book.
  3. Orion, Ignacio’s favorite constellation.  The red star represents Betelgeuse and the blue star represents Rigel.
  4. We needed another constellation to keep things balanced, he chose the Big Dipper.
  5. Ignacio and his best friend Mia.
  6. For the art show, Mia made this adorable bean mosaic.
  7. Rigel, Ignacio’s second favorite star.
  8. Betelgeuse, Ignacio’s favorite star.
  9. The science fair ended with a session of creative movement led by two of the moms.  They acted out everything from bears to tornadoes.  At the end they were told to act like their science project.  This is Ignacio’s version of Orion.
For the art show, we chose to share his Earth Day and Rainbow collages.

Here is a detailed view of Mia’s mosaic.  Isn’t it beautiful?!

1st Grade Curriculum

Ignacio will turn six this November.  According to our local school system he should be entering Kindergarten.  If you can believe it, he would have been in K4 this last year.  Their learning targets are so ridiculous, it’s a shame.  I treated this last year as if it were Kindergarten, although I think there is a lot of gray in this area.  We used Horizons K for math this year; I was very happy with it.  My mother works for our local public schools.  She was impressed with the work he was doing and explained that at her school that would be second grade math.  He loves the solar system and geography, and is very knowledgeable in both.  Again, these topics are not even introduced until second grade.  In any case, here are my plans for the coming year:

Explode the Code: Book 4 & Book 5. He really likes this series and tends to breeze through it. If he finishes them as quickly as the others we might also begin Book 6. He reads a lot. I should clarify that we don’t always complete every page of the lessons. We skip some and also do some out loud. He complained that some were too easy and sometimes felt like busy work. He really enjoys our new approach. When I ask him to do certain pages, he happily completes them. I think reading comprehension is very important and will be using Reading Response Bookmarks & Graphic Organizers by Kim Blaise. I will also use Building Dictionary Skills Grades 2-3 by if (Instructional Fair). He always reads out loud in the car and knows that he has to read a minimum of 15 minutes a day on our days off.

We will be finishing Grammar & Punctuation 1 by Evan Moor.  I love this series; we are about half way through the book now.  I think I’ll have him move right into Grammar & Punctuation 2 as soon as he is done.  Once I know he has a firm grasp on the rules, I plan on using Write a Super Sentence also by Evan Moor.  He also enjoys writing letters and fan fiction.  He is currently working on an Angry Birds in Space story.

As for the formal curriculum, we will use Horizons Math 1.  I really like it.  There are a lot of review problems, but I just pick and choose which ones I want him to complete.  We also cook together, play a lot of board games and read Mathstart books.

Social Studies:
I’ve decided to focus on Geography this year.  Ignacio really enjoys it and I would like to encourage him to follow his interests.  Also, I thought he would have an easier time understanding history if he first had a good grasp of the geographical world.  We started using Beginning Geography K-2 by Evan Moor earlier this year.  I plan on finishing the book and then moving on to Map Skills Grade 2 by if.  We have a lot of maps and globes.  We also have a variety of atlases and geography books.  I’m not sure when, but once I feel the time is right I will start introducing cultures, then history.  He has begun reading some simple biographies.


I’ve decided to use R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey: Earth & Space by Pandia Press.  Ignacio wants to be either a meteorologist or an astronaut when he gets older.  This science curriculum focuses on both weather and space, how perfect is that?  We also read a lot of books and go on a variety of field trips.


We began using the Teach them Spanish! Series this year and really liked it.  I’ll continue with the 1st grade book.  We also read along to bilingual audio books in the car and try to watch some cartoons in Spanish.  I’ve been speaking Spanish to him and he understands a lot more now.  His accent has also improved tremendously. 

He will continue taking the weekly art class our neighboring rec department offers homeschoolers.  We obviously do a lot of projects at home.  I am also really looking forward to using some Usborne books I recently ordered.

Ignacio takes a variety of classes at the Y.  He is currently taking a track & field class.  He will be continuing with his swim lessons also. 

He really wants to learn how to play the guitar, hopefully we can find a good deal on one for him.  We listen to a lot of music; his favorite band is They Might Be Giants.  We also have My First Classical Music Book by Genevieve Helsby and Jason Chapman.  Ignacio really likes it.

I would like to point out that I school year-round.  My school year runs July through June.  I try to take it easy July and August.  We plan more trips than we normally would the rest of the year.  There are also weeks where we might only school one or two days.  I just don’t like taking the entire summer off.  It makes too hard to get back into our routine.

I'm thinking of reviewing some of my favorite resources in upcoming posts.  If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Earth Day | Follow-up 2

A little late, but here it goes.  I’ve decided to focus on Earth and Space for science next year.  I thought I would use Earth Day as a sort of introduction into Earth Science.  We saw a documentary about the natural wonders of the world on Netflix (sorry, can’t remember the name).  We also read Usborne’s See Inside the Planet Earth by Alex Frith.  We picked up the April issue of Click magazine, which was devoted entirely to Recycling.  (Although, truth be told we haven’t read it yet, hopefully soon.)  I found a really good experiment in the book Catch the Wind, Harness the Sun: 22 Super-Charged Projects for Kids by Michael J. Caduto.

This was a very simple project.  Simply cut the top off of two plastic bottles.  Place a thermometer inside each bottle and tightly cover one of them with clear plastic.  Place both bottles next to each other in the sun.  Monitor the temperature of both throughout the day.  Make sure to continue the experiment late into the evening.  Do you think there will be a difference in the temperature within each container?  What do you think will happen once night falls?

This experiment is meant to emulate Global Warming.  The sun’s heat does not escape properly in the covered bottle.  I left the bottles out all day.  I checked the temperature when I brought them in at night and had Ignacio fill in the final data the following morning.  He had a lot of fun checking in on the thermometers.

Disclaimer: Please excuse my dirty garden window; I’m too short to reach the glass.  :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Earth Day | Follow-Up 1

We love to craft.  So, when I saw this project shared by A Mommy’s Adventures I knew I wanted to try something similar.  She in turn got the idea from Itsy Bitsy Learners.  Isn’t the internet wonderful?  Be inspired! 

Our version was done using watercolors, oil pastels, and construction paper. 

Ignacio loves geography.  We have many maps and globes.  I found this tiny globe in the Dollar bin at Target.  It comes in very handy, especially when we don’t have much room left on the table.  Ignacio wanted to draw the outlines for North and South America.  He was afraid that if he didn’t, they wouldn’t be recognizable.  He had to decide where to start.

He did a really good job.  He drew it all himself.  He only asked for help in deciding how wide to draw South America.  (I should mention that we used a thick watercolor paper.  I traced a Frisbee and cut out the circle for him.)

He then colored it all in by layering two shades of green oil pastels.

I love Prang watercolors, you can’t beat their vibrant colors.  Ignacio chose to mix blue and turquoise blue for his water.  In all honesty, I was too lazy to go upstairs and look for our good brushes.  We used the brush included in the set and as you can see, we had quite a few loose fibers left behind.  No worries, they come right off once it dries.

I brought out some of our multi-cultural construction paper and Ignacio chose the paper he thought best matched him.  It is hard to tell from these pictures, but he did choose the best match.

For obvious reasons I traced his hands for him.  Using a 9x12” sheet of construction paper I had him place one forearm on each corner then position his hands towards the middle, almost touching each other.  He cut them out himself, only asking for help cutting where the fingers meet.

I cut out a heart to use as a template.  He then traced it onto red construction paper and cut his heart out.  I like using heavy bond double sided tape, rather than glue.  It forms a strong and immediate bond.  I especially like that the edges do not lay perfectly flat.  I love the texture and dimension.  We matched the corners in his arm cutouts to the corners in his background paper, perfect fit.  He loved this project!

A few close-ups:

Next post I’ll share a few resources we’ve been using this week to learn more about our Earth.

Earth Day!

Did you do anything special for Earth Day this year? Now that Ignacio can read, he likes to look for upcoming holidays in our family calendar. He has been looking forward to Earth Day for some time now. We decided to celebrate Earth Day the entire weekend by just getting out there and enjoying the outdoors. Ignacio and I started the weekend by volunteering at a local nature reserve. We pulled enough Garlic Mustard to fill half a garbage bag. We then went on a mini hike and bumped into a naturist. He took the time to talk to Ignacio about different plants and share ideas for future visits. On our way back, we met an astrophysicist! Turns out he shares Ignacio’s love for both Pluto and Betelgeuse, how awesome is that?! We enjoyed the rest of the weekend in our backyard and a local park. This is by no means a complete list of our activities, but I thought I’d share a few highlights.

Upon arriving at the nature center, we were asked to pull Garlic Mustard. It is invading the area and not allowing native plants to grow. I really liked how thoroughly everything was explained to Ignacio. They showed us pictures of what the plant looked like and explained why it needed to be pulled. The importance of pulling the root was also stressed. Ignacio was a natural! There were a few times that we found a worm within the root. We always set it free.

Afterwards we decided to enjoy one of the paved trails.  Ignacio decided to do this while walking backwards.  I have no idea what he is doing with his hands, he kind of reminds me of Frankenstein here!

He thought this was the perfect spot to rest.  He plans on bringing a book with him to read here next time we go, he claims it is very comfy.

The fun continued when we returned home.  We hula-hooped, played with bubbles, jumped rope, and enjoyed our swing set.  Francisco is determined to climb up the slide, he has yet to do so…

So much fun!

Sunday was full of fun times as well.  Ignacio loves to “fly like Superman”!  We tried to play Frisbee, but Francisco thought it was more fun to play keep-away. 

We decided to go kite flying, but once we got to an open field the wind just wasn’t strong enough anymore.  Good thing we brought our boomerang!  

I’m a sucker for beautiful flowers…

We also enjoyed the sunset…

Stay tuned, more Earth Day fun to come.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Shedd Aquarium | Follow Up

I thought I’d stick with the aquarium theme for a few days after visiting the Shedd. Nothing big or formal. We borrowed Life-Size Aquarium from the library before our visit. Ignacio read his Dive into the Ocean issue of Chirp Magazine on the way to the aquarium. Back home, we saw Dolphins: IMAX on Netflix the next day. I also left a stack of ocean related books on the kitchen table, Ignacio was free to read from them as he pleased. I took care of my three year old nephew for a few hours that week, Ignacio had a good time “teaching” him about the ocean.

Books we read:

Usborne’s First Encyclopedia of Seas & Oceans by Ben Denne
Usborne’s 1001 Things to Spot in the Sea by Katie Daynes
Usborne’s See Under the Sea by Kate Davies
Life-Size Aquarium by Teruyuki Komiya

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Field Trip | Shedd Aquarium

We recently spent the day at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.  We had a great time.  I thought I’d share a few highlights.

1. This adorable turtle has a spinal injury.

2. Rainbow fish… isn’t it beautiful?

3. Ignacio had just read a magazine article about Rainbow fish. It said that they are usually about the length of your finger. He was checking to see if it was true.

4. I love the way Stingrays swim, they look like they are flying.

5. Stingray smile!

6. Francisco, waiting for the show to begin.

7. I love seahorses, but they are so hard to photograph. I’m glad I was able to get some good shots.

8. Ignacio comparing his size to that of an Emperor penguin.

9. What an end to the Aquatic Show, four Pacific White Sided Dolphins jumping out of the water. You should have heard Ignacio the first time one of them flew out of the water. All he kept saying was “wow!”.

10. Pacific White Sided Dolphins.

11. The dolphins really like swimming upside down.

12. My beautiful boy. He wanted to have a puffin painted on his face, like The Mighty Sven in Happy Feet Two.

13. He just turned five in November and already he is 3’10” tall.

14. Veteran’s Memorial at Soldier Field.

15. Beluga whale.

16. Francisco, shortly before he had a meltdown. My husband ended up having to take him out for a walk and missed the end of the show.

17. They have workers blowing bubbles for the kids waiting in line, it was a huge hit!

18. A Beluga swam by to say hello. I love Beluga whales’ expression; something about that constant smile feels so sincere to me. I swear they make eye contact!

We don’t go to the Shedd as often as we’d like to, unfortunately it is just not in our budget.  The cost adds up quickly, but it is definitely worth it to go at least once or twice a year.  You should definitely plan a visit if you find yourself in the area.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

stART | What Makes a Rainbow?

Although Ignacio is now reading, I make it a point to still read at least one book a day to him.  He usually jumps in and we end up reading the book together.  We moved while I was recovering from surgery and I have yet to finish unpacking.  I like to bring a few books out at a time as a surprise.  I took advantage of Francisco’s nap and brought out “What Makes a Rainbow” by Betty Ann Schwartz. 

We read this book when he was younger, but he didn’t remember it.  When he first saw it he complained that I had brought out a “baby book”.  That all changed once we opened it and began reading.  He loved the way the ribbons formed a rainbow.

I love the colors used in the illustrations.

As Ignacio would say, “The happy ending”.

Ignacio has been very interested in collages lately.  When I saw a blow post showing how to make a rainbow collage I knew we had to try it.  I have some rolls of kraft paper that measure 13.5x30”, I began by taping one to the floor.  I purchased back issues of National Geographic magazine at a thrift store and piled them next to the paper.  Once I was ready, I showed Ignacio the blog post over at Art Projects for Kids using my NOOKcolor.

This project was a joint effort.  I cut out some of the more elaborate shapes, but he had a great time finding pictures we could use.

We began by simply placing the pictures into groups.  I’m glad I decided to wait until the end to glue them down.  It was like building a jigsaw puzzle.  It was interesting to see how the perception of color changes with its surroundings.  We thought we had too much orange, but once we started putting it together we realized it was actually the opposite.  Some of the orange pictures were really more of a red, others yellow.  We ended up having to go back and find more true orange.  Ignacio’s favorite color is green, of course we had more than enough of that color.

By the time we finished cutting everything, he needed a break and asked me to glue it all myself.  Once I was done I covered the entire collage with contact paper.  It was surprisingly easy.  There were a few air bubbles, but I find that in this case it actually adds to the appeal.  Here is the finished collage.

A closer look:

We really had a great time.  Ignacio wants to make another collage.  It was a very affordable project.  The roll of paper cost me .50 and the magazines were .20 each.  I should point out that I did finish an entire glue stick, glad I always have a few on hand.  What a great afternoon!

On a side note, while at the library the following day I came across “Ruby, Violet, Lime: Looking for Color” by Jane Brocket.  While it is more of a concept book than a story book, I think it is also a great choice for this project.

Make sure to check out more stART projects at A Mommy’s Adventures.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Book Review | Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the World

While at the library, I came across “Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the World” by Susan Hughes. I am so glad I decided to check it out. This 64 page book packs a punch! Ignacio and I both loved it so much, I’ve decided to buy a copy for our home library. This book was such an interesting read. It clearly shows that “school” is about the act of learning, regardless of the building in which the learning is taking place. I especially enjoyed the fact that the book did not limit itself to profiling just the schools, it also explained the children’s living conditions, and shared the stories of individual people that are truly making a difference. The book profiles 23 amazing schools around the world, devoting a two page spread to each. The wonderful pictures really caught Ignacio’s attention. The book ends with a map of the world, showing where each school is located, as well as a list of resources to help more children learn. I thought I’d share a peek inside.

Boat Schools in Chalanbeel Region, Bangladesh:

Shadid Rajaei Elementary School in Kalou, Iran:

Dongzhong Primary School in Dongzhong, China:

Mobile Schools in Cali and Popayán, Colombia:

Grand Oaks Academy in Paris, United States.  (I thought I’d mention that while I was happy to see a spread devoted to homeschooling, I’m not sure how I feel about their example.  While I understand that there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to homeschooling, I don’t know how many homeschoolers build a school house in their backyard.  Also, the family profiled essentially prepared their daughters to attend public high school and are no longer homeschooling.  This was my personal observation, Ignacio made no comment on the fact.):

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Kindergarten Update and Curriculum

I’m think I’ll review some of the curriculum we’ve been using. I’ll have more in depth posts in the future. Here is a basic list:

Math: Horizons - Kindergarten (abacus, flash cards, etc.)

Reading: Explode the Code – We completed Books 1 and 2, currently half way through book 3.

Writing: For most of the year, Explode the Code has doubled as our writing curriculum. We also wrote a lot of stories and letters this year. We recently began using How to Write Book Reports PK-K and Grammar & Punctuation 1 (both by Evan Moor).

Social Studies: Ignacio is a huge fan of Geography. We have many maps and globes. We recently began using Beginning Geography K-2 by Evan Moor.

Science: We have been using Teaching the Fun of Science to Young Learners PK-2 by Janice VanCleave.

Spanish: Teach Them Spanish! K and Everyday Words in Spanish by Usborne.

Art: He takes a weekly art class. We also craft a lot and have a variety of art books by Usborne.

Gym: He takes a weekly P.E. class and a weekly swim class. He was in a dance group the first half of the year. We also play a lot and take many walks.

Additional info: It is worth mentioning that we also read a lot of library books. The topics vary, but they are usually about science or geography. We also play computer games. Also, his art and gym classes are specifically for homeschoolers. How cool is that?

At five years old Ignacio can:

• Count past 200. He gets bored and chooses to stop, usually somewhere around 220.

• He can also count by 2’s, 5’s, 10’s, 100’s, and by 3’s if he uses his fingers to keep track.

• He is adding and subtracting single digit numbers and double digit numbers.

• Is beginning simple word problems.

• Can read! Just today he finished reading Little Bear all by himself. He has also read the entire Piggie and Elephant series by Mo Willems.

• He writes using basic sentences. Always uses upper case letters and ending punctuation correctly. He has recently begun using apostrophes as well.

• He knows all 50 states by name. He recognizes each by shape and knows where they are located on a map. He also knows some state capitals and can recognize a variety of countries.

• He knows more about the solar system than I do. He knows all of the planets and dwarf planets. He also knows some of their moons and can recognize some constellations. When looking at the night sky, he almost always knows if he is looking at a star or a planet and is actually pretty accurate at naming the planet he is looking at. This is without a telescope, judging by brightness and location. He likes to use my GoogleSky ap to see if he was right.

• He is understanding a lot more Spanish now. His accent has also improved a lot. He can recognize color and number words when they are written.

• He has always been afraid of the water, but last week he learned to float.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Where has time gone? When life takes over…

Oh my poor neglected little blog. It is hard to believe that I have not posted in over a year.

What happened? Life happened.

My baby was born October 2010. We decided to name him Francisco. I won’t go into details now, but in a span of thirteen months I had four surgeries. Four surgeries, while caring for an infant and continuing to homeschool Ignacio. I had to prioritize my life and when it came down to it, this blog didn’t make the cut. Also, did I mention the internet stopped working on my laptop? Or rather, it only works when it is plugged directly into our router, which happens to be in the basement. I have kept a journal though. I try to write in it weekly. It was nice to read through my older blog posts, see how far we have come. That was the point in creating this blog. I want to document this time in our lives. I’ll be back soon. I think I’ll just pick up where I left up, might have a few catch up posts.

I’ll introduce Francisco with this layout I made prior to getting sick. He was so tiny then. Are you familiar with digital scrapbooking? It was a major hobby of mine, haven’t really done that either. Note to self: scrap!