Wednesday, December 30, 2009
There's always Kwanzaa.
From Dec. 26 to Jan. 1 you can celebrate African heritage. That's just what we needed to get us through to the New Year.
If the morning paper had not had a full spread describing Kwanzaa we may not have known anything about it. That reminds me I need to send a Christmas tip to the delivery guy... Anyway,
The girls got right to work decorating with the Kwanzaa colors of red, black, and green.
We checked out a book at the library about African folktales that we'll spread out over the week.
And, we'll try to remember to say the traditional Kwanzaa greeting to each other as much as possible "Habari Gani!"
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Today we made these snowflakes out of pipe cleaner and pony beads. No two are alike of course!
First we worked on memorizing the 3rd stanza of "Twas the Night Before Christmas." This is just so our brains don't freeze completely from having a couple of weeks off from school. We also read a short little story, "The Apple Tree Christmas." The story almost made it sound fun to live in a barn. It's about the simplicity of Christmas-es way back before there was W-mart. It also inspired the girls to eat some of our apples.
Yesterday, our neighbor taught the girls about Christmas traditions in Germany, where the tradition of decorating pine trees originated. They had rice pudding and decorated gingerbread houses with graham crackers and lots of gooey frosting.
We were lucky enough this year to have a spontaneous ice skating rink form in our yard. Kate was the first one who discovered it and since then it has become a main attraction for all the kids. Oh they've had their share of falling, wet bums, and cold hands, but they still like to go out. Kate will bring out the radio and blast the Christmas music. Today she spent a whole hour with Adrie choreographing a lovely skating dance complete with whirls and twirls.
While I was planning all the fun activities we'd do this week Kate (who's 8 and great) taught me a great lesson. She had just read the newspaper and came to me after we had read our bedtime Bible story. Apparently she had come across a picture of an ad that showed an old man with a plate. It said something like, "Can you help the hungry?" I had remembered seeing that ad running for a few weeks now and I hadn't even given it a second thought. But, Kate, who is so sensitive and compassionate was visibly moved by it and wanted to help. The next day we had a true CHRISTmas activity. The girls cut out that picture in the paper and went around the neighborhood collecting money in a jar to send to the homeless shelter. With their own contributions and that of the neighbors they collected $16.30. That is enough to give 9 people Christmas dinner. Thanks Kate for teaching us the true spirit of Christmas!
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
They each had copied this to their varying abilities: Kate in cursive, Brynn printing, and Adrie trying to get the letters in order.
In honor of Columbus Day we talked a bit about his life and watched a clip from the History Channel. The girls also had to copy a few more lines to add to the above.
He discovered America.
The world is not flat. It is round.
Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria.
Copying seems to serve a lot of purposes: spelling, grammar, punctuation, and of course whatever info they are copying is sinking into their heads. Last week the girls each chose a poem to learn. Each day they copied a stanza and just by doing that, they have them nearly memorized. Next week we might have to get out some famous quotes and scriptures. Think of the fun we could have with a list of "Mom's rules!"
Monday, October 5, 2009
I found Kate in my bedroom on my bed curled up and reading Roald Dahl's Matilda. When she saw that I was surprised to find her there she explained, "This was the only clean place in the house."
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
- humus (HYOOMUS) (things that were once living)
Here is what Kate regurgitated from the lesson and I wrote it down in her notebook.
Humus is made of dead stuff. It makes dirt black. There are 3 types of soil. We have CLAY soil in our yard. If we add humus to it, it will make our plants grow better. That kind of soil is called LOAM. Next week we will be at the beach. It will have SANDY soil.
This afternoon we went to our local Home store or what Brynn calls the "boringest store ever" and bought some LOAM, a spade, and some daylily's. We are excited to add some more dead stuff to our dirt. It's time we put our dirt to work and try to beautify the yard-- if only a lily at a time.
p.s. While at the Home store I got a consult for installing a sprinkler system. We're only a simple irrigation system away from getting rid of the dirt problem forever. Ha ha. I'm wringing my hands with delight.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Today was much better , we invited a friend over and had a geography/history lesson about Africa. We learned about the gold of Ghana and the merchants who traded it through the Sahara desert with their trusty camels. It acually kind of turned into a science lesson when we watched a National Geographic clip about camels, talked about Dromedary and Bactrian camels and made our own out of egg cartons and pipe cleaners.
If anyone is interested in some cool spelling software there will be a free trial offer and giveaway Friday Sept. 4 on this website. www.SpellQuizzer.com/community
Friday, August 28, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Week 2 is going much better than week 1 because Dad came up with an idea. Each school day the girls can earn a quarter IF THEY HAVE A GOOD ATTITUDE. We have 4 school days (Friday is for Art, baking, cleaning) That amounts to a couple dollars a week for kids with a good attitude. Priceless for me! We are on day 2 and it is working wonderfully. Attitude is everything.
Week 2 is also way more organized. We spent one school day going over the curriculum and expectations of each kids school year then made up a chart with the DAILY "have-to's for school.
Kate's (3rd grade) school chart has seven things: SPELLING, GRAMMAR, COMPOSITION, LITERATURE, MATH, CURSIVE HANDWRITING, VOCABULARY.
This doesn't actually look to fun does it? Luckily we have some great curriculum books sent to us by our k12 program that address each one in a fun way. Today for example Kate read a story about Lewis and Clark to learn about subjects and predicates. For Literature she read aloud (using her karaoke microphone--future rockstar here) a fable from India, "The Tiger, Brahman, and Jackal." She practiced her cursive. She added adjectives to make her composition about Hannah Montana even more exciting.
Dad is going to be taking over the teaching of her math--phew!
Brynn's (1st grade) school chart has 4 things: MATH, PHONICS, LANGUAGE ARTS, HANDWRITING. So far she thinks homeschool is the best thing ever. I heard her tell her friend the other day, "I Loooooove it." Dad calls this a honeymoon period and to enjoy it while we can. Today she finished all her lessons and cleanup by noon and was asking who she could play with. She was shocked to learn that all her friends were still in school for another 3 hours. "Doesn't anyone else do homeschool????" Today she learned about even and odd numbers and patterns using the colored counting rods. She worked on handwriting and we read the first chapter of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle.
The inspiration in this book has already proved VERY handy. Today, for example, I was nagging 4 year old Adrie to clean her room before she could watch a show. (She always seems to end up with a sore leg when it's clean up time) After lots of whining and flailing on the floor I realized my attempts were futile. Then I remembered Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. Pretty soon Adrie was made into a "toy elf." She had to pick up all the toys in her room and put them in the "sleigh" so Santa could take them to all the children in the world. If she didn't get them in the sleigh in time, not only would little girls in India and little boys in China be heartbroken but Santa would fire her. She would have to live with polar bears and swim in icy cold water and eat raw fish for dinner. I told her to yell "ho ho ho" when the toys were ready for Santa. She sang as she worked and finally I heard the signal and went in draped in a crimson blanket from the closet." Santa was very proud of her and Kate suggested she be promoted to "Elf of the Year." Thank You Mrs. Piggle Wiggle!
Amidst all of this we have an 18 month old boy who gets into everthing. Today he climbed on the table and ripped pages out of Brynn's math workbook. He sucked on the math counting rods. He escaped outside and ran into the road wearing only a diaper--at least a diaper. Thankfully it is now naptime!
The year is looking good so far...I just need a little more energy and a lot more patience.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
I plan to do some history and science through the summer and we'll still keep our Fridays for Art day. So, as this year draws to a close I wonder-- what have we all learned from this year's at-home schooling experience?
1. CONFIDENCE--I no longer am embarrassed to admit what we do. In fact, I'm proud of it. If you ask me about homeschool I just might get way too excited and talk your ear off.
And as for Kate? She is more confident with adults and is comfortable playing with kids of all ages (one of the BIG benefits of homeschooling.) She participated without local homeschool group in a spelling bee and poetry festival and I could see that even though it it was very hard to overcome her nerves, she did it. It was exciting to see her confidence grow through those experiences.
2. LIFE SKILLS--Maybe we didn't memorize all the world capitals but we sure have enjoyed dozens of home-baked cookies. Kate has been whipping up batches of good things, peanut butter, chocolate chip, shortbread cookies.--what a great way to learn the fractions from measuring. I didn't know how to cook until I was married! She knows how to take care of her younger siblings, and whip up and serve a batch of Ramen noodles for lunch. Kate is also a super shopper. She is always on the lookout for the lowest prices. The other day when I asked her which of 2 boxes of cereal we should get she said, "get the cheapest one!"
3. POWER of AGENCY--Each morning on our dry-erase board I wrote the date and the lessons that needed to completed. Kate would choose which one she wanted to do and in what order. ..Something about letting her choose made her so much easier for her to get her work done. Contrast that with our first year "It's time for spelling NOW."
4. PASSION--If you've read a Thomas Jefferson Education you'll know that kids learn through their passions. I asked Kate what her passions were earlier this year. Her answers? mermaids, fairies, magic, rocks, and rock-stars, soccer, and cooking. Okay, I was slightly worried at first but I think in the end we made it work...Kate practiced handwriting by copying down her favorite rock songs off of lyrics.com and memorizing them.
She read everything our library had to offer about mermaids and fairies. She learned perspective in ART by drawing mermaids diving, mermaids sitting brushing their hair, mermaids swimming backwards and upside down. She spent many good days collecting rocks and sorting them. We learned all about igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks along the way. And of course, we covered MATH with the cooking. I guess whatI'm saying is , "There is hope for ANY passion"... and if anyone has a question about fairies we have a world-class expert in our family. She shuns anyone at the dinnertable who eats meat now, "fairies wouldn't like that."
5. LEARNING IS FUN! We read Peter Pan together and used the blank pages on the back of our calendar to design our own Neverlands. We learned the parts of speech by playing Mad Libs. We learned directions by creating treasure hunts with clues. We ran obstacle courses between math problems. We had pretend spelling bees. We dressed up as Romans and argued over who got to wear the royal purple. We acted out the life cylce of a butterfly from egg to adult. We made chocolate lavas and watched National Geographic online videos of erupting volcanoes. We learned about the Middle Ages and designed our own castles. We celebrated any and every little holiday including, "Dr. Seuss Day." Kate's friends had been busy reading because of something at school called, "Beat the Teach." We had our own version. We started last Wednesday and had a race to see who could read more: Me or the girls. Yesterday was the deadline and they beat me by far! They each get to pick out something for their new rooms in the basement. (Kate got a fuzzy rug) We love to read! It took me until age 31 to learn that. Luckily the girls have it now.
6. WHAT'S WORTH KNOWING? Good manners, right from wrong, life skills, true heroes overcome their fears, love of reading, expressing oneself through art, speaking, writing, building, whatever.
Adjectives, pronouns, and past participles? Who cares! Don't sue me. Even if you graduate with a Doctorate in English do you really need to know those??? (We still learned them but I'm not really sure why?)
6. And most importantly, RELATIONSHIPS--except for the issue of piano practicing I would say that Kate and I have a great relationship. I love watching her learn. I am amazed by the things she says, her insights, her creativity. One parent responded when they found out I homeschooled, "I can't imagine being with my kids ALL day." Well, I can't imagine anybody I'd rather be with all day than my kids. They're wonderful. We have a great time and I could honestly say that if they or I were to die tomorrow, we would have spent enough quality time together.
No regrets. (If only I could figure out the whole piano practicing thing) We've had a great year and we're excited for Brynn our 1st grader to be joining us for next year's homeschool adventure!
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Here is how we were able to apply the principles of our book for today's lesson.
Kate's assignment was to read "Pandora's Box." Our usual routine after reading a story is to discuss it and then Kate will write a book report in her school journal. Using a book report formula she will write the title and author, then the plot, setting, characters. The 3rd part is where she gives her opinion, what she liked, how she could apply it to her life, etc.
One example Ms. Brown gives in her book is when her daughter did a book report in college. Instead of the usual writing sample, she used her passion for art to paint her own interpretation of the book on a huge lifesize canvas. Everyone was astounded!
Kate's first impulse, after reading, Pandora's box was to start drawing Pandora's box. She sketched a picture of a fancy treasure box and a tiny beautiful fairy with wings--her interpretation of Hope. On the opposite page she drew a myriad of frightening looking creatures: spiders, snakes, 3-headed monsters, as her interpretation of the troubles of the world.
It was wonderfully creative. Why should we limit ourselves to writing only??
So, I told Kate from now on she could choose 2 of the following ways to report on a book:
MAKING UP A SONG on the piano or singing
ACTING IT OUT
....there is no limit to the creative ways our kids could express their brilliance.
Kate chose DANCE for her 2nd way to tell about Pandora's Box. She chose a song from our iPod, Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake Allegro non Troppo. Then she played it for me and danced away. I even joined her the 2nd time. The music went perfectly with the story! We started out all happy and perfect like Pandora's life. Then the music gets slower and more curious as Pandora explores the forbidden box and makes several attempts to open it. Her curiousity gets the best of her and she finally opens the box. The music turns slow and melancholy as Pandora laments the troubles and evils of the world she has let out. Then just at the end a violin trills a hopeful tune as Pandora hears the voice of Hope whispering, "let me out! I can help you! "The violin continues to trill as Hope's wings emerge out of the box and bring comfort to the whole world.
How fun this was!
I can see that we are going to have a lot more brilliant book reports to look forward to!
Monday, March 16, 2009
Born a sickly baby to slave parents, he grew up to be an insatiably curious boy. He had a passion for plants and learned to nurture and care for them so that he earned the name, "Plant Doctor." At the age of TEN he set off on his own to make his way in the world. Earning his keep by doing odd jobs, he taught himself many skills. Finally at age 30 he earned enough to go to college but was turned away many times because of his skin color. How unfair! Still, he never gave up and was finally accepted.
His goal was always to use his talents and knowledge to help people. As a Dr. at Tuskegee Institute he discovered 100 uses for the sweet potato and 300 for the peanut! He was able to convince the southern farmers to grow these instead of cotton as they were much easier to grow and better for the soil. At age 80 he was still working tirelessly to improve the world.
Wow. With such a great example we were able to have a great discussion.
After our discussion we all wrote what inspired us most about his life and how we could learn from it.
Kate wrote, "I can be like George Washington Carver by not hiding my talents."
She also liked how he asked many questions and if no one could answer them he would work them out until he found the answer. Here are some of her questions:
How do they make markers? How do they make crayons? What is dirt made of? What is water made of? How are barbies made?
Looks like we'll be doing some fun internet searches.
We enjoyed some peanut butter sandwiches in honor of Dr. Carver today. He also inspired us to plant some flowers. Kate had a seed packet she bought the other day so she opened it and the seeds are soaking, and will ready to be plant tomorrow.
Monday, March 9, 2009
This is the formula for a good education according to the book I'm currently reading: A Thomas Jefferson Education (Oliver DeMille) It reminds exactly of how we are to study the scriptures: by reading them, discussing them (at church or with family), writing down impressions in a journal, and applying the scriptures to our daily lives.
We tried this model today with our schooling. We read Chapter 4 of our kids Classics version of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
First, we read it out loud together.
Next, we discussed the story of Sir Gawain and Lady Ragnell.
The girls were each given a journal to write what they thought about the story and how they could follow the example of Sir Gawain.
Kate wrote about the story and concluded with, "I could be like Sir Gawain by keeping promises, even when it is hard to do."
By being true to his word, Sir Gawain was able to break the evil spell and turn the hideous Lady Ragnell into a lovely maiden to marry.
This went right along with another story we read today called Finders Keepers (Robert Arnett). This was a beautifully illustrated picture book that took us on a journey through India, learning about it's culture and people along the way.
After we read it, we discussed it: Brynn liked how those in the Jain religion, sweep in front of them before they walk to avoid stepping on any living things. Their respect for life is so deep they wear cloths over their mouth so they won't accidentally swallow any flying bugs.
Adrie said she learned how to say hello and goodbye, Namaste with a bow. Namaste means
my soul respects your soul.
Kate said she liked learning about Dharma, the philosophy that Indians live by: "Do what you ought to do, not what you want to do." This was illustrated in a little story about a poor little Indian boy returning a tourist's wallet. He refused any reward for doing his duty. "Why should I get a reward for doing what I should do."
We followed the TJEd model today and had a great day of learning!
Friday, March 6, 2009
We also learned about castles. We all, even I drew our own castles complete with torrents, flags, drawbridges and moats. Mine had a garden, park, and swimming pool inside with nice little homes for the servants. Kate said it looked like, "ZION?" Well, maybe if I lived like the servants instead of the luxurious quarters I had designed for myself....oops.
Monday, March 2, 2009
Friday, February 6, 2009
Every morning we have a list of what she needs to do before she can play with friends. One of these is PIANO practicing (notice piano is a recurring theme of discontent at our house.) Another one to clean her zone. She did her schoolwork but couldn't seem to muster up the energy to do cleaning and piano. I know Love and Logic teaches us parents not to remind but I couldn't help letting her know that she had 1 more hour to practice before her lesson or she would not be able to play with friends for the day. Then I walked away. Piano lessons came and she had lost her chance to play with friends.
Later in the afternoon, while Kate's two younger sisters were off playing with their friends, because they finished their work, the doorbell rang. There was one of Kate's most "favoritist" friends asking if she could play. Kate ran to me and with all the pathos she could demonstrate, BEGGED me to let her play with Madison. "I'll hurry and clean my zone right this second, PLEASE!!!!"
When she saw that I was a wall--a soft but FIRM wall--that was not going to crumble--she twisted up her face in all kinds of crying, feel sorry for me, ways.
"Oh, that's SAD." I said. I really felt sorry for her and tried to show my empathy.
I had to go to the door to explain to the friend that Kate wouldn't be able to play because she had made the choice not to practice or do her chores.
Soon after, I was enjoying a little down time on the computer. Kate interrupted me to ask if there were any jobs she could do to earn money. I stopped, looked at her and played dumb, "It is hard for me to think of extra jobs when you haven't done your regular ones."
I also let her know in a loving way that this was my time to do what I needed to do and that I would talk to her later. "See ya!"
She spent the rest of the afternoon/evening entertaining herself.
Thanks to Love and Logic I was still able to have a good day even if my daughter chose not to. Today is a NEW day with NEW list of wonderful opportunities. We'll see how it goes.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Kate, would you rather
- Do school and get your mind off your worries
- Take the day off and do double schoolwork tomorrow
She chose #2. (and then curled up in the fetal position on the couch)
It worked out great, really. I got the house all clean and Kate got to spend the morning worrying 100% just like she wanted.
In the afternoon I took all the girls into the dentist office for their check-ups. We were greeted by the whirring sound of the drill and the overpowering scent of fruityness that's just doesn't quite do it's job of covering up the smell of latex and fluoride. (Ewwww. I'm cringing as I write.) You wouldn't believe the grim look on all the girls faces as they sat and waited their turns. In the end they returned from their checkups relatively happy with their new toothbrushes, a bag of prizes, and NO CAVITIES. Oh the relief on Kate's face!
Today, we did it. We doubled up on the schoolwork-- and all without any complaints.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: I wish I was a worm so I never had to go to the dentist (Kate)
Sunday, January 18, 2009
For Art Day we gleaned our inspiration from Franz Marc. He liked to paint animals but not as they would appear in nature. As seen above he liked to use bold, bright colors, and shapes. The girls learned about blending primary colors to make secondary colors and mixing them with a little black or white to make different tints. After their pictures dried we cut cats out of them and glued them on construction paper. Another fun lesson with paint!
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Thursday, January 8, 2009
decorated a gingerbread house, sang carols around the piano, baked lots of treats, went to the local festival of trees, cut out paper snowflakes, made Christmas cards, shoveled snow, threw snow and ate snow, made a Christingle (see photo), sledding, ice-skating, going to the movies
Alright, I can't think of anything else, that was weeks ago. Maybe next year we can include some service in there????
Really, I feel like our time off recharged my batteries. Now that it's January I feel ready to get back to school full-swing and I think secretly the girls are too. Christingle: orange=world, candle=Christ, red=His sacrifice, 4 toothpicks=seasons, raisins=fruit of the world