Monday, August 29, 2011

Our Third Week of Homeschooling

I hope no one was waiting with baited breath for our third week's report, but if so, I'm sorry its late :)  We had such a wonderful weekend with (rare) perfect weather that I didn't stay inside very much!  We had family time at the creek, family reunion, and a church potluck at the lake.  Sorry to all of you involved in earthquakes and hurricanes recently, but all that wind pushed the pretty weather our way. 

Our schedule this week was hectic.  I had personal appointments as well as volunteer commitments, so school didn't happen first thing in the morning until Thursday and Friday.  But it did happen every day, and that's the beauty of home school and freedom.

On Monday, we continued on with our routine of scripture memorization, Bible study and prayer, followed by math.  He is now on Funnix lesson 40, and getting through that whole lesson Monday was a challenge.  However, I'm pleased to say that I backed off and split lesson 41 between Tuesday and Wednesday, and got through with the daily whining that began last week had success!  He did lesson 42 on Thursday and 43 on Friday without any whining at all.

After math, we learned about the House Mouse through the Handbook of Nature Study, read a poem from A Child's Garden of Verses, used a free copywork page from here to go along with one of Aesop's Fables we read last Friday, then worked on phonics and reading.  Also, on Monday we read chapter 2 in Our Island Story, about the Romans attempting to invade Briton, listened to Mozart's Requiem and watched a Spanish video from Speekee.

On Tuesday, the same general format was followed.  We chose a different piece of copywork and a different poem.  Then we read about the 300 brave Spartans from Fifty Famous Stories Retold for history, finished reading a graphic novel called Knights from the library, and read a bit more of Midsummer's Night Dream from Tales from Shakespeare.  Each evening before bed, we read/listen to the original Peter Pan.

Wednesday and Thursday, we focused on geography instead of history.  We read Map Scales and Maps and Mapping, some more Fables, listened to Mozart's Symphony no. 41, Aiken Drum and For the Beauty of the Earth.  He also had sewing, and actually made a project from a kit!  He is going to enter it in the county fair next week, along with rock, feather and shell collections.  The project he will be most proud of, I think, will be the Lego creation.  Its all original, and he's worked on it for several days.  I'll post pics next time of those.
Learning to draw contour lines

Friday, he finished up the week strong.  A second trip to the creek, house cleaning for dinner guests, an art lesson and we started to read Beauty and the Beast from the Blue Fairy Book.  It was longer than expected, so will read it for bedtime stories until done, than go back to Peter Pan.
Snapping turtle eggshells

Wheel bug - assassin of the insect world
Fun with Radar
Nature study happened Thursday and Friday this week, but he didn't draw in the journal.  What he did do, though, was rediscover a love of the creek.  He swam, watched minnows, saw new bugs, named the "islands", picked out snack spots, and threw rocks to his heart's content.

Friday afternoon, our neighbor brought over two baby squirrels they rescued!  Her significant other cuts down trees and saw their nest and brought it home!  I'd never seen a squirrel so small and up close before.

Friday evening, we came home with a new kitty named Kady.  She puts up with the dogs pretty well.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Our Second Week of Home Schooling

The novelty may have worn off.  This week didn't go quite as smoothly as last week, but I am not surprised.  Not only did our entire routine change when the foster children went home Monday night, but I've been unsuccessful in fighting off the cold that started last Friday.  It moved to my chest, ugh.  Then on Tuesday I got poison ivy for about the third time since spring.  Ah, well.

Monday followed the schedule pretty well, with the addition of phonics flash cards for increased fluency with two-letter combos (ol, ar, st, etc.) that make one sound.
 I also managed Art Class (free sample- through The Old Schoolhouse magazine promotion- from "See the Light: Drawing Children to Him") that I left out last week.  I do like Art Class, but it would be easier to watch if my computer didn't insist on saying that it can't properly play DVD's.  Sigh.  I also made sure we actually looked at Fragonard's self-portrait on Monday, then put it in a sheet protector and hung it on the wall next to the chalkboard (in the dining/school room).
 Finally, we toured the local food pantry and sat in on a meeting.  Food pantry is overcrowded and definitely needing a new building, like the Grayson Co. Alliance has been wanting for years now.  If you want to donate, let me know :)  I'm in charge of general fundraising for the Alliance (Like us on Facebook, too!).  End shameless plug.

 Tuesday was also a good day.  We got through lessons pretty quickly, which included listening to a small portion of a Librivox recording of Midsummer Night's Dream (since my voice was about gone).  I also lengthened the time he spent on Funnix math.  Then we went outside!  First we did some dragonfly nature study and saw a duck on our pond (yay!  I was ecstatic!).  Our friend was here doing some farm work for us, as he often does, and he decided to work on clearing some land between our "waterfall" and sinkhole.  We have quite a canyon forming, so went exploring.

 I taught Luke about shale, and how it and other rocks can be used as chalk.  He learned about water displacement by filling up a water hole with rocks.  He learned about erosion, and that some weird bugs live in the dark places where the roots grow.  After a while, I came back and fixed a picnic, and we enjoyed some food in the shade before he went back to "work" while I came inside and tried to get some rest.
Collection of "chalk" rocks
Mashing leaves to make green "paint"
 Wednesday is when things started to go downhill, just a bit.  We had a deadline (lunch date to meet the new Extension Agent for family and consumer science) and got it all done with little whining. For Bible time, we did the second character study (Kids of Character), which was Attentiveness (last week was Obedience) and continued with scripture memorization.  We also read Mozart's biography and watched a couple of YouTube videos here.  After the luncheon, he went with Ma for sewing class.  He didn't want me there this time, but he learned the back-stitch and how to sew on buttons.
Our scripture memory box, a la SCM
  Thursday and Friday were full of stubbornness.  I lengthened the math lesson some more and it didn't go over well, so I will cut it back again and insert more reinforcement games next week.  I also added a new series of readers from Progressive Phonics (he's ready for their "advanced" books), which he resisted in the extreme. I will print this out for next week (as opposed to reading the PDF on the monitor) and take it slower, even though I know he can read at this level without any problem - IF he wanted to. Despite the attitude issues, we listened to our hymn and folk songs, Mozart's Requiem, and continued ocarina practice. We also went out and found a subject for a nature journals.  This spider is sad because Luke poked him with his  colored pencil. :)  The scribbley stuff is the web and the 2 red legs are antenna...which spiders don't have.
 Until next time...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

So long, Farewell...Goodbye?

Yesterday, my second pair of foster siblings went back home to their parents.  FD was thrilled when I told her as she got off the school bus, hopping up and down, grinning and asking questions.  I had to wake FS up from his nap to pack their clothes, and told him then, and he just moped.  The younger ones just don't really seem to get it.  He did ask if he would be sleeping there and I said, "Yes, forever - hopefully."  And he said he might want to come back here.  I let them know they are always welcome to visit, and we can meet them at the park sometime if they would like.  Both children are interested in playing soccer, so I let the parents know, and they seemed interested.  I told them how to sign them up.  If they do, we'll get to see them at the games this fall.
First time playing in the rain

     I was glad to have a heads-up this time around.  I was told in advance when the court date was, and what the cabinet was recommending to the judge..  This is what *should* happen.  (Last time, I found out through the bio dad instead of the case worker and had no idea what to expect when they were taken from me.)  I was able to mentally prepare myself over the weekend for them leaving, as well as packing up all their toys and whatever else I could get away with packing.  I actually packed all but 2 pair of socks, underwear and PJ's, and FD did notice but she is still young enough to not put too much stock into things that happen around her.  Very trusting
     I also updated their "lifebooks" as required by the state.  This is basically a scrapbook kept by foster parents to help the children remember where all they have been.  It was started back when kids moved a lot, from home to home, and while that situation has improved here in KY, it still happens.  These 2 kids did come from another foster home in a nearby county, complete with lifebooks.  I was disappointed in the number of pictures she included - very few considering they were there over 1.5 years.  I put in more pics and pages for the 3 months they were with me!!  FD was very excited to look over the old and new pictures on Sunday when I told her about them.

Heading for the school bus in his favorite boots
     When the call came Monday afternoon as the worker left the court room, I was given three hours to complete the packing and take them to meet the parents.  I got it done with time to spare, and took pictures of the 3 kids together, then had DS take one of me with them, and DH even came home early to load the van, so I took a pic of him with the FK's as well.  That was something I regretted not doing last time!

Summertime fun with DS6, FD6 and FS4
    We took them to their new home (not usually how its done, but we happened to find out where they lived by seeing them play in the yard on Saturday during their visitation) and DS didnt' want to get out of the van.  I believe he had a lot of mixed emotions about them leaving.  He said he was glad they were leaving and that he liked the previous kids better.  I was surprised by that, since there was much less fighting and more fun had by the latest group.  His words said glad, his attitude said sad.
     As we were completing the unloading process and taking everything to the porch, he did finally come out and come over to say goodbye.  There were no tears, no clinging goodbyes, so it was very different from the last reunification.  I would say it went well. 
Little Artist
     I always have doubts that the parents are going to do these kids justice, and step up to the plate, so to speak.  This time, my worries worsened as I got 2 calls from the elementary school saying FD wasn't at school today.  Hmmmm.  I gave them the parents phone number.  It is out of my hands, but you gotta wonder....why on earth did they not take her to school?

And now back to my regularly scheduled disinfecting of the rooms they used!  Having kids rotate through the home does encourage a nice schedule of germ-killing and mattress flipping. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Our First Week of Home Schooling

As you know, we are using the free curriculum guide provided by Ambleside Online, which follows the Charlotte Mason method of education.  I'm starting DS off in Year 1, since he is already beginning to read and will be 7 in December.  (He would also be in 1st grade in public school, but the Ambleside year's don't necessarily correspond to grade levels.)

Here are some school room (dining room) pictures.

 The shelf containing scripture memory box, readers, Peter Pan (bedtime story), Bible, and field guides
 The Year 1 books we are working through for literature, science, history, geography and poetry.
My new-to-me chalkboard! (Thanks, Robert for not throwing it away like your mom said to, and to DH for hanging it)

I followed my planner and got almost everything done that was scheduled (although a few things out of order, but that's what freedom is for!).  It felt easy and natural to teach him with this method, and I was pleased with our beginning.  He had a couple days where resistance led to tears...probably because he was expecting to not actually have to learn at home.  The first day he couldn't understand why I didn't want him in pajamas all day, but he did comply.  Hopefully, these things will work themselves out as we continue with the plan.  As we get used to this way of learning, I will slowly lengthen the math lessons, which is currently 12 minutes of Funnix lessons followed by computer games or hands-on activities to reinforce adding and subtracting.  I will also increase the amount of time he will be reading to me.  While he can read many words that surprise me, he has no love of reading and is very resistance to reading out loud.  Thankfully, he does like me to read to him, since that is the core of the Charlotte Mason method in the younger years, along with lots of outdoors time.

As the summer heat subsides, I will be increasing the outdoor time as well.  We did "walk" the baby turtle each day and create a terrarium for him, and purchase a new ball to toss around the yard.

We hunted for sticks to make this nature journal.

We captured grasshoppers and even a dragonfly, which became our nature notebook entry for the week.  The Handbook of Nature Study blog has the pond as the August focus, which worked out great for us!  I need to figure out how to dig deeper with the nature notebook than only examining the creatures we find, and this website tells me how.  Now to apply what I learn...

For handicrafts, we are learning sewing from my mother-in-law.  She is a former home ec. teacher and I am needle-challenged, so this worked well.

We watched Spanish videos on Speekee and Salsa, using immersion before using some conversational software we have from The Learning Company.
We did some phonics and learned some new words, using Free Reading, which I found through Lesson Pathways.  (I'm also using Lesson Pathways to supplement math, science, and other things in the future.)
At our trip to GenCon earlier this month, DS fell in love with the ocarina, so we purchased an inexpensive plastic one for him to learn on.  This week we learned finger placements and practiced a scale.
We listened to Mozart, the composer for this term.  Listen here.
The only thing I didn't get going was art and artist study (Fragonard this term), as my printer is out of some toner colors, but I will get that started soon!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Happy Not-Back-to-School Day!

The Ambleside Online curriculum that I'm using has fantastic resources, including related Yahoo groups.  One of the groups has had a recent thread about homeschooler's "not-back-to-school-day" traditions.  Since this is our first year home schooling, I thought some of these ideas were fantastic!  However, we have a full schedule today so the only idea I was able to implement was to show him his new school books and explain a little about what we are going to do with them.  I'm also working on putting chalkboard paint on an old chalkboard (fixing small holes and covering over some white paint) that a friend found - then we'll hang it up and the dining room will be a school room.

Some of the ideas I liked included breakfast with dad while the other kids are bussed to school, decorating the school room and throwing a party with school supplies as gifts, and taking "school" photos.  I would love to implement these traditions, and may be able to do some of them next Monday when we officially start.  Today was the first day of school in our county, so it would be the official not-back-to-school-day.

Why can't we start school now?  My husband is out of town at a game convention (GenCon) and DS and I will be joining him Thursday night through Sunday, just for fun.  (If you are near Indy, take your family on Sunday for discounted badges/admission and go shopping for games!  Make sure to stop by the GameScience booth for some awesome dice!)  Also, I had a merchandising job to do this morning, a chiropractic appointment (ouch! ribs are still healing!!), and a couple extra kids to babysit while their mom takes care of "big people" stuff. Sometimes I wonder if I ever *will* have a "normal" day.  And what is a normal day, anyway?  LOL

FD and I got up before the boys, and she did a great job getting ready for her first day of school - even brushed her own hair and put it in a ponytail!  She wore the Justin Beiber shirt again with the boots. :)   She popped out of bed, hugged me and said, "I'm going to miss you today". is different without her here!  We walked to the bus stop together (waited from 6:25 to 6:40am for it) and met the neighbor and her boy, who is one year older than FD.  I'm glad she already has a friend for the bus ride, and a couple of girls in class that she knows.  I'll see her again at 3:30pm.  Long day for a 6 year old!