This was a great first week back to school! I think we had a sufficient break from the grind of school and were, secretly, ready to get back into some sort of a routine. I spent a lot of time carefully planning our curriculum and daily flow so as to have a good mix of educational rigor and good times.
This year I am asking the kids to really step up and do some independent work and some things they don't think they will enjoy doing. I am asking them to push themselves in directions they don't think they are ready to go, but I know they are capable of it. I can happily say that I did not experience any resistance from them this week when asked to take on these new tasks. They have happily(ish) done their work and we have enjoyed spending our time together.
The First Day of SchoolYesterday I posted about our totally rad first day of school. It was a lot of fun!
But on Day 2 we jumped feet first into our full schedule. We moved subjects around each day to get into a daily flow that we think will work best for us. As of yesterday, I think we have it figured out. Strangely, Eli is most happy starting our day with grammar. I don't have an explanation for that one because he usually really struggles through that subject. Maybe he just likes getting it completed first thing in the morning. Whatever the case, he is happy doing grammar, so I am happy!
Isn't that such an awesome part of homeschooling? You can cater to your children's needs with something as simple as scheduling.
Highlights from our week
I have been so inspired by Little House on the Prairie and When Calls the Heart to use the McGuffey's Readers. We went back and started with the 4th Primer and are loving it! This is one of those new things I am wanting the kids to do ... do more consistent reading out loud. We are hoping that this technique will help us with Eli's stuttering (he and I learned from James Earl Jones that reading poetry outloud helped him overcome his stuttering). We have already noticed that it certainly helps him regulate his breathing while speaking. The kids have really enjoyed the stories we have read so far, too, which surprised them! They thought the stories were going to be old-fashioned and boring. They were pleasantly surprised! We write the day's vocabulary words on the white board and stop in our reading each time we come to one and discuss the meaning. Then later in the afternoon they copy either one paragraph if we have read prose and all stanzas if we have read a poem. I believe this will help them with their grammar and spelling. So far, so good.
This is a magical little time when they grab their clipboards loaded with grammar, spelling, writing, and math worksheets. They take their clipboards to a comfortable spot and work through their worksheets, only coming to me when they have a question. This is a time when I am able to do some work in the kitchen or some laundry. Independent work!
The Miracle Worker
Another thing we have added this year is a second novel read aloud, separate from our literature study spine from The Chronicles of Narnia series. I have chosen a different book for each month of the year for us to read together. These books might have an upcoming play we can attend, or a movie we can watch, or may have to do with our history topic of WWII.
This month's selection is The Miracle Worker. And we are reading the play. We have never read a play together, so this has been a new challenge for us. And one we are enjoying! We sit together on the couch and I assign parts to each of us and we read. This helps with Eli's stuttering, gives the kids a new genre of writing to experience, and helps them to learn tone of voice when reading. Either at the end of September or the beginning weeks of October we are going to go to the children's theatre to see the play.
Further Up and Further In (The Chronicles of Narnia) ~ The Magician's Nephew
Although there is a lot of Bible and character development to discuss in this unit study, this week we used it primarily for our science studies.
Photography/Solargraphy - We explored the reasons why persons in photographs in the 1800's rarely had smiles and we looked at old photographs. Then we learned a bit about solargraphy and did our own little revised experiment. (We also went down a rabbit trail about the solar system and added something to our list of topics to research this year -- What types of exploration have been done on the planet Mars? I might let daddy take the lead on this one!).
Pollination and the Importance of Food - This was a fun one! We watched a couple of little videos about pollination. Then we reviewed the parts of a plant. The kids made a plant with yarn for the roots, a straw for the stem, some leaves cut out of burlap, and the petals made from a paper towel they colored with markers. Inside the paper towel was a Starburst (the nectar), tied in with a rubberband.
Then we took a small break for some Cheetos. I instructed them to eat their Cheetos with the same few fingers and to really let the cheese get on them. (They were confused why I was telling them to get their hands dirty instead of to just use a couple of fingers to keep them clean, as I would normally tell them.)
When they were done with their snack we discussed pollination. Then I told the kids that their hands were bumblebees and they were sent out by the Queen to get some nectar. The Cheetoh cheese powder on their fingers was from the last flower they had been in contact with that was covered in pollen. In order to get to the nectar inside their petals, they had to pull and tug apart the paper towel. Then they noticed that there was pollen (aka Cheetoh cheese powder) all over their paper towel petals. Cool transference activity.
Sound Waves - The kids watched Bill Nye The Science Guy's "Sound" video and then did a fun experiment on sound waves. We tied yarn to a large spoon, a small spoon, and a fork, then looped the yarn around our index fingers and held them to our ears. Then I tapped each of the utensils with a ruler and the kids recognized different sounds. This taught them about conductors and reverberation.
When Science Finds You - Meet Walter the whooly bear caterpillar. We found him while setting up our solargraphy project. We brought him inside and researched what he would become (a Tiger Moth) and what we needed to do to take care of him. This led us to placing him in our butterfly keeper and preparing his habitat for him. We have successfully cared for Black Swallowtails before, and are hoping to be able to do the same for this future Tiger Moth.
So far we have only done some introductory reading about the state of our country, and the world, just after World War I and up to the time of the Great Depression in the United States. We will be getting more into the meat of the beginning of this topic next week, as well as hosting an enrichment class one afternoon a week with some friends.
Freedom FridayOn Fridays we have "Freedom Friday". On this day, mom doesn't teach. My goal is for the kids to get into a habit of and develop a desire for independent, interest-led learning. I have guidelines set up for them, including the amount of time I expect them to be reading and limits on electronics. They have some fun, educational shows they can watch, like Brain Games and American Pickers. Brynne is enrolled in a Minecraft Class that starts in a couple of weeks and Eli will be spending equal time designing on Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 and working with the new Scientific Explore: Amusement Park Science Kit I ordered. And they will need to complete any work we did not get to throughout the week, cause that certainly happens.
School is life and life is school. Even when we are not sitting with a pencil in hand, there is so much learning and activity happening.
1. Daddy started his first week working from home! Somehow it makes school feel even less formal having him here instead of at his office. And we like it!! He was able to take some breaks to share in some videos with us.
2. Brynne participated in the annual Miss Junior Septemberfest competition this week. She received 2nd Runner Up. She looked stunning!
3. Kyndal had an ultrasound this week to make sure that she did not have an ectopic pregnancy (there was a slight risk of that with some recent health issues). But all is going great! She is feeling good. She is five weeks today.
4. I started attending a new workout class at our high school on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. The physical education teacher at the school is holding hour-long classes for free. And they aren't easy. I am really going to enjoy working out with other women.
5. And we are in the full swing of volleyball season. Brynne's first game is September 17th.
2015-2016 Hours Logged - 32 hours 5 minutes (2 hours 30 minutes outside home)
Plus 167 Summer Hours