Saturday, August 28, 2010

Crazy--LOCA !

This week we picked up where we left off a few months ago in memorizing chunks of The Family: A Proclamation to the World. I figure if we work on a bit here and there then by the time the girls graduate from high school they will have at least the last paragraph memorized...

We tried a couple of new things this week:

  1. Instead of me reading their literature aloud to them, I gave each of the girls a book. They read it quietly on their own then narrated it back to me. Josephina and the Story Quilt and Clara and the Bookwagon were the two selections. The next day they traded books and did the same thing.
  2. Our neighbor and I combined forces. On Thursday he taught my girls science. Adaptation was the big word they learned there. On Friday, his kid joined ours for Art. Worked wonderfully...and in that hour that they were gone to science lesson---I got so much done--washing windows, folding laundry, sweeping. I think if my kids were in school all day I could have a very clean and organized house!

We made hair bows and watch bands for Art, while listening to Vivaldi.

One of the best stories to teach compassion and kindness for those who are different is Crow Boy. After we read it aloud I asked each of the girls to pick one person they knew who they could be especially kind to--by inviting them over or including them, a friendly wave, etc. Each day I've been asking them to report on how they've done. Now that we've tried that for a few days, if any kid from the neighborhood comes over wanting to join the girls and their other friends all I have to do is (quietly ) mention "crow boy" and with a knowing look they will be quick to reach out and include the new person.

For nature day each girl chose from a selection of books we got from the library about various animals/insects. They were to read over it and the next day be prepared to share a few things (according to their ages) that they learned.

Brynn chose a book about SNAKES. She is 7 so she picked 7 things to tell us about snakes.

Adrie is 5. She shared 5 things that she learned from her DOLPHIN book.

I told them I had 32 things to share about my book. They gasped. Ha Ha!

They drew pictures and wrote about their project in their sketchbooks.

Adrie finished another unit of math and earned a prize from the prize jar. Brynn is almost done with her unit on telling time to the nearest quarter hour and counting dollar bills and cents.
She got a prize for spelling her weekly list of words like butterfly and sailboat correctly.

While the girls were eating lunch with a friend over I tried the Spanish immersion thing. I asked them in Spanish what kind of sandwich they wanted and if they wanted to drink agua or leche. The girls' friend looked at me like I was completely LOCA! My girls already know I'm crazy. Too fun! We reviewed colors using their cups and plates, and of course we covered different sandwich fillings like jamon and queso.

Kate was at public school while we were having all this fun this week ;) She rides her bike with her friends and stops for a free cookie at the grocery store. She gets to have recess and is learning what it means to have homework?!

Friday, August 20, 2010

by Christina Rosetti

Hurt no living thing:
Ladybug nor butterly
Nor moth with dusty wing,
Nor crickets chirping cheerily,
Nor grasshopper so light of leap,
Nor dancing gnat nor beetle fat,
Nor harmless worms that creep.

We memorized this poem this week in place of a scripture. It went along well with Nature Wednesday's theme: BUGS
After reading about them I sent the girls off with whatever bug collecting tools they could find: tweezers, jars, magnifying glass and --safety goggles? That was Brynn's idea.

The "pest control guy" came to spray that afternoon (I've seen way to many black widows lurking about). I realize writing this how much that is in stark contrast to above poem....

Anyway, turned out to be a perfect day for the girls to hunt. The bugs came out of their creeping places by the dozens to die...and be collected as specimens. Beetles, crickets, a praying mantis, and a (ackkk!!!) black widow were found--to the delight of the kids. This project may be ongoing all summer long.

For literature this week we read some of Aesop's fables and one of our favorite books, Sam, Bangs and Moonshine. Brynn and Adrie both finished a unit of math, earning them a prize from the prize-jar. We worked on spelling and handwriting and reading aloud.

Today was Art and Cleaning Day...It is 3pm and Brynn still hasn't mustered up the will-power to finish cleaning the bathrooms...

A couple of neighborhood girls joined us for today's Art project: paper houses. The Little Hands Art Book by Judy Press has tons of cute ideas like this one.

Before starting I introduced the girls to Vivaldi's Four Seasons and we listened to it while the girls worked on their projects. They chose a couple sheets of construction paper. One of them they used to cut out the shape of their house. Then they cut out windows and doors and garages and placed them on the 2nd sheet of paper as background.

We talked about different kinds of houses people live in and we practiced knowing our home address. One girl chose to make an apartment, the rest made little replicas of their own house. They scoured magazines, ads, and newspapers and cut out faces, pets, etc. to paste in the windows and make their homes look "lived in."

Friday, August 13, 2010

It was back to the fairgrounds again this week. For Wild Wednesday we read a picture book about the FAIR and then went to our own county FAIR. Pigs, sheep, cows, chickens, bunnies, and roosters--what a hullabaloo! Kate is absolutely sure she would never want to live on a farm.
The girls had fun seeing the exhibits they entered with winning ribbons on them. Kate won a red ribbon for her photograph of Cannon. Brynn won a red ribbon for her painting and a blue ribbon for her modeling clay sculpture of a bird. Adrie worked really hard on her painting but was not allowed to enter it because the cut-off age was 6. Wahh. She did her best to be a good sport but I could see she was disappointed. I hung her picture up and home and let her choose a prize from the prize jar.

Week 2 of school has gone well--not perfect--but well enough. Adrie and Brynn each finished about 10 lessons of math on the computer. Yesterday we finished our Literature selection, The Bears on Hemlock Mountain. Brynn narrated the story back to me. Adrie did the same only in shorter segments throughout. They each came up with an idea for a final project and carried it out.

Adrie (5) gathered "nuts for the squirrels, crumbs for the birds, and carrots for the rabbits. She set them out on the porch and waited for them to come.

Brynn (7) took to the stage. She found our largest pot and tried to hide under it while the bears, Cannon and Adrie, sniffed and pawed around at it. Brynn enlisted Kate to be the father who comes and rescues his son. She took the liberty of "shooting the bears" but didn't want to follow the script and allow Brynn to give her a big hug for rescuing her. Brynn did get her line in "THERE ARE BEARS ON HEMLOCK MOUNTAIN."

Kate sketched a picture with the caption "There are no bears on Hemlock Mountain." The power of a good story is when kids can identify with the characters and apply the story in their own life I knew Kate had done this when she showed me the other half of her sketch. It was a picture of herself surrounded by unfamiliar faces and the caption, "There are no bullies at P-- school."
She is headed off to 4th grade at P--- school in a couple of weeks and we all hope she will have a good experience transitioning from homeschool to public.

Like I said the week wasn't perfect. I tried my best to do the language immersion thing and speak Spanish the latter half of the day. Only problem was by afternoon they were all ready to take off and play with friends. "Adios" was all we got in some days. Other days we did a little better. We used a book from the library about the different members of the family. Now they know what I mean when I call them "mis hijas" (my daughters)

Lastly, they had to finish their Friday cleaning. For Adrie this meant scrubbing the toilets. Brynn, dusting, and Kate, folding laundry.

Today was also the day for passing off this week's scripture:

And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you. (3 Nephi 18;20)

I'm going to be asking for more patience!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tarzan and Cattails

It's Day 3 of school for us. Today was the best of them. Of course!! It was Nature Day. After math, handwriting, scriptures, clean up and a violin lesson we packed a lunch, invited a couple of friends over and headed out for adventure.
One of the little treasures of our town is this park--actually it's the fairgrounds. No metal swingset, plastic slide, or monkey bars here. The fun is all in the trees, and there are 5 HUGE glorious ones! Lovely large weeping willows they are. The park also boasts a vast expanse of grass. Best of all-- no one goes there?!! For those reasons it has become our adopted backyard.
We found cattails on the drive over so we stopped and picked some. We learned from our nature guide a little about them and on the drive home we reviewed...
What can you use cattails for??
"FOOD, SHELTER, FIRE !" came the shouts from the back of the minivan.
Adrie (5) piped in, "and for putting in baby's diapers!"
(A little tidbit we learned from our American Indian unit last year. )

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Let the Learning Begin!

The lazy days of summer have been wonderful! Our batteries have been recharged and tomorrow we are set to begin our at-home online school. This will be our 4th year?! and as each year does there will be a few changes. First of all Adrie (kindergarten) will be joining Brynn (2nd grade) for our online schooling. After many months of weighing the options, we have all felt good about sending Kate to public school for 4th grade. I will miss her ;( and I think she will miss all of her free time but it is what it is. She will start with the rest of the district in 3 1/2 more weeks. Last of all there's Cannon-- (2 1/2yrs old). What will we do with him???

As a homeschooler with 4 years behind me I should have a "groove" but I think each year you take something and you give something and try to come up with a plan that will work for your family for that year. Over these past few years I have made many wonderful friendships with other teacher/mom's. Their influence combined with many good books, (see side bar) articles and the support of our wonderful Washington Online teachers have helped me to form what I call this year's Family CONSTITUTION:

Our family will develop a love of learning through reading, discussions, projects, and activities. We will help each other in pursuing passions and developing talents. Great literature, especially the scriptures, will be the backbone to learning and helping us to emulate Godly characteristics and virtues. In addition we will study Art, Music, Math, Science, History, and Foreign Language. We will learn life skills of cooking and homemaking. We will seek out opportunites to help and serve those around us.

Okay, so I KNOW, that everyday is not going to go chocolatey smooth but we are the nuts and bolts of it and where possible I've put in parenthesis or italicized credits where they are due.

things happening MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY:
morning scripture reading.
Each week starting Monday we will work on memorizing one scripture (L. Tom Perry May 2010 Conference Address, Majesty of Books by Sterling Sill) from our reading. Throughout the week this is what we'll use to copy and practice handwriting. Fridays we will pass it off and maybe there should be a reward after so many "stars" are earned.

Math (k12 online program) will also be done each day in the mornings.

Literature from a host of good resources (k12 selections, biographies, myths, fables, folk-tales, poetry) Honey for a Child's Heart has wonderful suggestions for different age groups.
After each selection the girls will be able to give a narration. (A Charlotte Mason Companion)
and each week will choose a project from a selection of their choice such as drawing a picture, writing a poem, making up a dance, sculpture, etc. (Thomas Jefferson Education)

The afternoons will be available for chores and music practice. Brynn has been taking violin for the last year. (Shinichi Suzuki's Nurtured by Love)

Afternoons will also be for leisure reading, finishing projects if needed, and most importantly DOWN-TIME and FREE PLAY.
Something I would like to try that I learned from reading an article this summer about Utah's Dual Immersion Schools-- They speak English the first half of the day and Spanish the 2nd half. I'm assuming that it is 100% Spanish with no cheating by the teachers?? hard. so I will try my best to do that. Even if we start out with just 10 min. of Spanish a day and work our way up??? Anyway awesome to hear about the success of those schools and I personally feel that knowing a 2nd language is helpful for so many reasons and the younger you are the easier it is.

WEDNESDAYS will be Nature Days or "Wild Days" like the book implies. (Wild Days, A Charlotte Mason Companion) Rain, shine, or snow will be OUTSIDE, either in the backyard weedlot or up in the canyons. With our field guides and sketchbooks in hand we will explore the beauties and enjoy the freeing spirit of being in nature. Beforehand we will read a science selection (k12) about habitats, animals, etc.

Also in the past we've tried to do some service like babysit, take a treat to someone or have them over for dinner. That can make for a busy Wednesday so we might have to see how it goes and switch to Thursdays. I think it would be great to focus on a virtue (Children'sBook of Virtues), read stories about it and challenge the kids to help someone that week. Each week, maybe for family night or at dinner they would come prepared to report on their experience. (Elder Bednar May 2010 General Conference Talk)

FRIDAYS, like last few years, will be Art Days using our k12 curriculum. We will incorporate music into this by introducing a different composer (Mozart, Bach, etc.) and listening to his works for a month. It works out great to let them be inspired by putting the music as background while they work on their art projects. (A Charlotte Mason Companion)

This is also our cleaning day--scrubbing the toilets and sweeping the floors are all part of a good education too right?

Every other TUESDAY afternoon we will participate in clubs with other homeschool families. Brynn and Adrie will be in the younger girls group which I will be in charge of. This will be our 2nd year and what a blessing these friends have been for all of us! We always have fun learning in groups! Each semester the girls study one of the historical American Girls. We use her story along with crafts, songs, food, and fun activities to learn about that era of American History. This year we'll be studying the Colonial Era of Felicity.

With this same group we have planned some holiday parties throughout the year for some extra fun and socializing.

Sometimes I like to break it up a little throughout the year by ditching the routine and focusing just on one subject, like History, for example. Last year we did a week in "Rome" etc. or one week we did a complete housecleaning. Not as fun but it is good to recharge the batteries once in a while. In Sept. we'll be going to the beach for a week. Yay!!!!

I would also like to teach the girls some basic cooking skills so they can be a little more self-reliant and take turns preparing lunches and snacks. We'll take of that, well--during lunch-time!

A Thomas Jefferson Education teaches that children learn best when they pursue their passions and interests and base their learning around that. I think that is a wonderful philosphy and so I asked Brynn and Adrie what they wanted to learn about. Here are their responses:

Brynn (age 7)
different kinds of:
  • birds
  • plants
Adrie (5)
  • nature (specifically dolphins, penguins and elephants)
  • mushrooms
So funny to find out what interests them?! I'm sure those subjects will work out wonderfully for our Wednesday curriculum.

That's a lot. Should I be overwhelmed? Not yet. I'm excited and the girls seem ready to dig in as well. I've heard any education system is like Swiss Cheese. There will be some holes. But, we'll do our best to fill them along the way.

I'm so glad our girls have each other and a great neighborhood of friends to play with. And I'm so grateful for the support of a good husband and family as well as like-minded friends in the local and online community! Here's my toast to a good school year!