Monday, August 30, 2010

Planning......cont. by Annie

I just came home from a helping a friend organize her home school stuff for the fall. It's so exciting. There's such a sense of peace when you've outlined some basic goals for the semester and lined everything up in it's place.

I had stated previously that I did school with Rowan first. These boxes entertained Rose when she wanted attention. I have a box of play dough things, one of rubber stamps and ink, a cork board with a hammer and shapes, magic sand, a box a matchbox cars, and a caddy of crayons, scissors, glue, etc. I also have a basket of old magazines that has occupied children in making collages for hours. They also like these things. Another big hit with them is when I trace their bodies on the big rolls of white paper and let them decorate themselves.
Here are the kids list's of things they do on their own. I used to write out the exact directions for each category but it took forever. Now, they just know to do a line of handwriting, a chapter of Bible, the History assignments that are on the board, their math page for the day, the next poem in their poetry book, etc. This list is great to have because there are days I'm running behind, but they don't need to be because they can get started on their stuff. The art tab has 10 page protectors in it to hold their art projects. At the end of 12 weeks, or on some subjects, the end of the school year, I empty the divisions into their grade folder in the filing cabinet.

It's always fun to work towards something. One goal that we work toward is having an open class-room night at the end of our semester. Last year we had the grandparents over and gave them a taste of what we do in school. We started with the pledge of allegiance and a song. The kids recited poetry, Bible, history, and geography. Rowan pointed out his continents and oceans on the map. They dissected sentences. We had a spelling bee with grandparents included. The kids displayed their art work, etc. It was tons of fun and such a good reward for all their hard work!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

On the road Annie

Last year, about Aprilish, it came to my attention that we spend a lot of time in the car. Avonlea's harp lessons are 35 minutes away and piano is 30. I do the milk route (picking up and distributing raw milk) which usually takes 2 hours round trip about once a month. I started feeling like we could use our car time to better advantage but didn't ever really do more than get some books on CD. I have now had a summer to plan and a collection of Cd's in my arsenal for the when the fall driving recommences. These are some of my favorites:

Geography Songs - The kids love these songs and I love knowing how to pronounce all those crazy Russian countries.

Addition Songs - These songs hypnotize Rowan and Rose, I look back into glassy eyes and mouths chanting "1 plus 1 is 2. 1 plus 1 is 2. 1 plus 2 is 3..." etc. I can only handle so much of this one as I don't need anything hypnotizing me as I'm trying to drive.

Catechism Songs - The catechism questions are referenced often in reading. Once at church the pastor asked, "What is the chief end of man?" My kids sat up and whispered, "Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." Amen. The music on these is folksy and I also like to play it when we're painting.

Lyrical Science - There are four volumes to this science course and we have used three of them. They use familiar tunes to help us remember science facts. Ask me what are the characteristics of living things are and I'll sing them to you to the tune of........I love the mountains, I love the rolling hills, I love the flowers, I love the get the picture. It's a little random to hear your kids naming body parts to show tunes, but it keeps things interesting.

Joshua Bell - This is our favorite classical violin music. He is amazing. This is also great painting music.

Wee Sing America - The kids love learning new patriotic songs and this has a huge collection. We usually start the week off with the pledge and a rousing song of "I'm proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free, and I won't forget the men who died who gave that right to me..." But unfortunately we will forget if we don't celebrate them and our wonderful country. I never want my kids to take their freedom for granted.

Henty books on CD - These books are L-O-N-G and wonderful for extended car rides. The stories are all historical, well written and well told. The older two love them the younger two fall asleep.

I'd also like to get a Bible on CD but am unsure of which one to buy. Any recommendations?

So.....we'll see how this year of traveling goes. I pray they find their car time more enjoyable and possibly

Friday, August 20, 2010

Daughters of the Faith - By Avonlea

Daughters of the faith series are like... my favorite books. They are all true. They're filled with character and captives, joy and girlhood of - Pocahontas, Mary Bunyan, Anita Dittman, and Mary Chilton.

We will start with Pocahontas. Pocahontas books I've read so many times that I didn't want to read it but I read it just the same and it was... so incredible, and inspiring. It will capture your heart. In the back of the book, there's an epilogue and some powhatan words: popanow - winter, cattapeuk - spring, cohattayough - summer, taquitock - autumn. So... is that fun or what?

Now on to Mary Bunyan... she's a poor blind girl in the 1600's who doesn't want anybody to help her. Her father is in jail, her mother just had a baby, they hardly have any money, her 7 year old brother Jake is playing with bad boys, and everything is just going wrong. Until... she and her friend find Jesus. They get her father out of jail, help her mother start again... and that is the end of the book. I'll do the 2 other books next post.

The author is Wendy Lawton. She farms 30 acres of almonds.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Field Trips and Friday School

My sister and I were talking today about different extracurricular events we participated in as we grew up in Alaska. We were both homeschooled and so the outside events were that much more poignant because they were rare.

I am so grateful for the opportunities we have here in the Vancouver area. My kids love attending Friday School which is a parent led homeschool co-op. This will be our 5th year of participation and I can't say enough good things about it. The leaders are organized and friendly, the teachers are wonderful (ahem), and the classes varied. If you are looking for something fun to try on Fridays, check it out.

We are also participating in Homeschooling Events and More which is a network of field trips for homeschoolers. I was so impressed with the events scheduled and the efficiency of their system. I signed us up for two musicals, Oregon ballet theater (tickets were 2$s each), and the Oregon symphony (ditto). We're on the waiting list for the tour of the capital and the tour of the Oregon mounted patrol horse stables.

What you do at home is hugely important, but what you do when you leave your home is also worth investing thought into. I don't always have the energy to do that, so I'm so thankful to the people out there that make these things happen!

Friday, August 13, 2010

One Word By Annie

My friend had decided to home-school her kindergartner. As the fall approached her apprehension mounted, could she really do it? Finally she decided to go to a homeschooling conference where she hoped to get help. A homeschooling veteran of 20 years was there answering questions after her lecture. My friend waited in a long line while mentally listing all the doubts and questions she had about homeschooling.

She eventually made it to the front of the line and poured out her concerns to the home-school goddess, "What curriculum should I use, they all look good to me! What do I do with her siblings while I'm trying to teach? How much time a day should I spend teaching? Do you recommend starting a foreign language in kindergarten?" etc.

The woman listened silently and when the barrage had stopped she said calmly, "I have one word for you. It's the best advice I can give."

My friend waited wide eyed for the magic word that would solve all her home-school fears.

And the woman said, "Chill."

"Chill? As in.........?"

"As in, really, RELAX! It's kindergarten for crying out loud! Play games with her, read to her, talk to her. But realize that your attitude does far more than any curriculum and if she learns from you that school is fun, she'll believe it and learn without even trying. Good luck! Next!"

I thought this story was hilarious but I also thought it was extremely helpful. Now I have a 5th, 3rd and Preschooler, but it still holds true. If I'm relaxed and having fun teaching........they are relaxed and having fun learning. If I'm laughing, they're laughing. If I'm enthusiastic, they mirror that enthusiasm. There are days when I forget this, days when I get wound up tighter than a yo-yo, days I fail to impart my love for them and the math concept. But as Rose spills the paint, and Rowan writes his name backwards, and Avonlea shed martyrs tears over math, Grant can only think frogs, and my temperature is rising at an alarming rate, I remember one word, and I often say it out loud,

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Enchanted Forest By Avonlea

This is us on the frog hopper in Enchanted Forest in Oregon. It is a fun place!
This is on the log ride. It's fun and scary at the same time. Ahhhhhhh.....
This is the crooked house... it sure is crooked! There's lots more rooms, too.

This is me in the bumper car, I don't look scary? I almost gave Dad a headache the way I bumped him.

This is the shoe slide that was so much fun!! We went again and again.

That was our fun trip. Mom and Dad took us there because they love us.
There was also caves, tunnels, 2 rollercoasters, and storybook lane, also... I can't tell you everthing!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Planning - By Annie

This is about the time of year that I start thinking school, routine, and organization. What that means for me, and what it means for you will be two totally different things. Nonetheless, I feel like I answer the same questions countless times so I'll answer some of them here, for the record.

The first thing I do is buy or devise a planner. I personally block 12 weeks at a time, but some people are happy with 4 or even just 1 to experiment. So I mark out my weeks from now until Christmas. I give us some catch-up days because the unexpected is expected around here. Once I've mapped the days we will be doing school I look at where I want to go. Goals are good. Then I find my average and mark how much of what I need to be doing each day. For example: the nature book that I want Avonlea to finish this fall is 363 pages. I have 49 days of school scheduled for fall. That means she needs to read 8 pages a school day to make sure she's done by Christmas. Math on the other hand is just a lesson a day, finishing where ever we finish. I know that most curriculums are based on a 36 week school year so as long as we stay consistent we usually finish our work for the year on time.

Our day is divided into 2 sections; morning school which involves everyone, and afternoon school which is just Avonlea and Grant (while Rowan and Posy have quiet time). My morning time is very structured and my afternoon time less so. Our school tends to go better if Rowan and Rose are given first attention. Avonlea and Grant have notebooks with checklists of things that they are to do themselves. For example: handwriting, nature reader, spelling, history readers, typing etc. By 3rd and 5th grade they are capable of much on their own. I work with Rowan and Rose plays near us or participates at her will. Rowan does math (Saxon 1), history/geography/Bible (Sonlight PS 4/5) and literature/crafts (literature pockets).

After about 45 minutes we swap. I work with Grant and Avonlea does a craft or plays a game with the R's for 30 minutes (I actually set a timer). When the timer goes off, we swap again. I work with Avonlea for 30 minutes while Grant takes the R's outside to play. Then I get the two younger ones again and Avonlea and Grant finish up their checklist. We start roughly at 9AM and finish at 11:30 and have some free time before lunch at 12! We did this schedule last year and it worked really well. It took a little while at first for the older kids to find their niche with the little ones. Avonlea prefers sedate activity and Grant likes to run them ragged. Sometimes they'll just get a stack of books and read to them the whole half hour. If the day is falling apart on me, I'll put in a movie.

So that's our schedule, roughly. I found a list of weekly and daily schedules on this site under planning. There's lots more to talk time!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cats by Avonlea

This is me with our persian cats. We have 5 of them,and we are breeding the two in the picture...we have been for 8 months. These are the names of the cats: Jane and Guinevere (the girls in the picture) then Lancelot, Lewis, and Ivanhoe. Ivanhoe got thrown outside (Mom couldn't stand the whining(meowing) so out he went!) Then Lewis is in a cage because too many males makes 3 smelly guys! That's my entry on cats!