Monday, September 27, 2010

My First Blog Award!

Wow! I still find it hard to believe that other people actually read this blog other than myself! But I recently learned that Beaglemamma at Training Them Up chose my blog for her list of One Lovely Blog award recipients. I'm completely stunned and very honored.

I am supposed to choose 15 blogs that I would like to similarly bequeath this award to...and I will...but it will have to wait a little bit as my deadline for turning in final corrections for my forthcoming book is tomorrow! On top of planning for school, laundry, cleaning up, and all the other daily tasks over here. But I look forward to highlighting some of the blogs I do love to visit and will do so in the near future, I hope!

Thanks again, Beaglemamma! =)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Week 4: A Trip to the Moon and More!

I'm going to try to actually post two straight weeks in a row! Let's see how it goes. I can't believe we are already at the end of week 4. For some reason, the school year is flying by this year. Last year we scheduled "light weeks" every four weeks or so, and I was feeling like I really needed it after our first four weeks. This year, I think I can just keep going a couple more! (Let's see how long this feeling lasts!)

This week's highlights...

We're focusing on North America right now in our study of world geography, with U.S. being the current topic. Harry and Ron studied hard all week to review their fifty states of the U.S.; we'd done this last year as part of Adventures in My Father's World, but this week it was time to pull the map out again and see if they could do all 50. And by the end of the week, they could!

Harry also wrote a lovely "thank you" letter to God in his handwriting book...

And Ron, who has also been learning cursive (at his request! He just wants to do everything Harry does!), produced some lovely letter Ls...

Dobby loves to "do work" when he sees the big boys doing school. So he will either pull out his Grasshopper Kit or one of his many write-and-wipe books (used to be Ron's but they have now all been passed down!)...

...or he'll have fun with Play-Dough or other activities that are right for a 3-year-old!

This week, Ron's kindergarten curriculum focused on the moon, so we did a number of activities related to the topic. We talked about how just as the moon reflects the sun's light, so too do we reflect the light of Jesus in our lives when we follow and obey him. Ron also learned that you can fit 50 moons in one planet Earth! But neither the earth nor the moon can outsize the sun! (Illustrated here with the green exercise ball as the sun, the small rubber ball as earth, and the tiny Play-Dough ball you can barely see as the moon!) Not quite to scale, but I think he understood the point!

To celebrate our study of the moon, we built a spaceship and went on a trip! (It's amazing how kids' imaginations can be sparked with just a blanket over a couch and chairs!) Both Harry and Dobby wanted to join in on the journey. I asked what they would need to take with them, and they all promptly went to get 1) their stuffed animals and 2) plastic food.

Ready for takeoff!
Moon, here we come!
I feel as though sometimes I just highlight all the good times here on the blog and say nothing of the challenging days. Well, let's try to balance that out. Wednesday was one of our challenging days. I felt like "mean mom" for a good portion of the day, being impatient and frustrated much more than I know I should have been with the boys. It was a long day, one when my husband wasn't home until well past their bedtime, so those are the days when I wonder if homeschooling is a good choice, that a schoolteacher would likely have been much kinder and nicer to my kids than I was. It was certainly a day when I had to ask my kids for forgiveness for losing my patience with them--they definitely know I am far from perfect!

But then I happened to look outside around 8:15 p.m., and I saw the most beautiful full moon in the sky. Given that we were studying the moon this week with Ron's kindergarten curriculum, it seemed a God-given opportunity. I sent the two older boys outside to see the moon and take some photos while I put their little brother to bed. Something about being outdoors and seeing God's creation always seems to put my kids in a good mood, so they ended up with big smiles underneath a full moon in their pajamas.

(That white dot towards the top of the photo is the moon! It looked more striking in real life!)
So that's how God redeemed our long and often frustrating day, as though He was smiling down on us from above despite my imperfections and failings!

As for lingering questions, I'm still trying to figure out some curriculum issues. For example...should I switch Harry from Latina Christiana to Latin for Children? Should I go from First Language Lessons to Rod and Staff? How will I fit everything in to our afternoon time when we start up with Singapore Math again next week? Come back and visit to find out! =)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Weeks 2 and 3!

I'm so impressed by the faithful bloggers who post every week or more! I just haven't gotten into an every-week rhythm, although I'm working towards it. So here is my update from the past two weeks.

Geography: The kids will never forget the names of the seven continents now that they've sung the song that MFW-ECC taught them (think "Yankee Doodle" using these words: "North America, South America/Europe, Africa, Asia/Kangaroos live in Australia/And penguins in Antarctica.") Even Dobby sings along! They've also learned about latitude and longitude and did several map-related activities these past couple of weeks.

("Mom, I keep confusing latitude and longitude!!!")

Scavenger hunt on our block!

The crowning geography-related activity, however, was our "world cake." We were supposed to bake a round cake then attempt to create outlines of the continents and color in with frosting. I'm not quite sure anyone would identify our cake as being a map of the world, but it didn't last that long around the house anyway! We made one then I wanted to try again and see if we could improve it, and Harry had the idea of taking that second cake and giving it to a family who recently moved to our street. A great idea, and I love that one my kids came up with it!

This year has been tougher because although I try to include Ron on all Harry's geography and some science-related activities, he also has his own kindergarten curriculum to follow. I do his reading, writing and math separately, but use the MFW-K for Bible, science, and kindergarten-appropriate activities. Last week, he studied the seven days of creation, making his own "Creation Book" which he proudly displays here:

And he focused on the sun this week, which MFW ties together with the idea that "Jesus is the Light of the World." Although Ron doesn't need the phonics in MFW-K, I do love the character-building/biblically-focused theme studies which was the main draw for me to select it.

Occupying little brother Dobby also takes some effort. Thank goodness for Grasshopper Kits!

And he also likes to join in on the art projects!

We also received our live caterpillars and started watching their eventual transformation into painted lady butterflies!

The big boys also made some nice bookmarks with the name "Matthew" on it, which is Harry's Bible focus this year in his curriculum. (Here, Harry has attempted to write "Matthew" in Greek, the language that Matthew used to write his Gospel.)

In addition to these subjects, Harry does his usual math, handwriting, writing, grammar, and spelling. I've switched this year from Classical Writing Primer to Writing With Ease 2, trying to do more than one lesson a day to get through it quickly and move on to Writing With Ease 3. I realized this year that we hadn't been doing narration quite the right way, so Harry still needs practice with this skill. But WWE is a much more teacher-intensive program than CW Primer and so I'm finding I need much more alone time with Harry in the afternoon when the little guys are asleep.

My biggest struggles right now are how to fit everything in; how to manage Dobby who is at an age in which he can take a great deal of energy and needs more attention; and what to do about Harry's Latin curriculum. I'm not feeling great about Latina Christiana right now so I'm considering a switch. We'll see what happens next week!

I can't believe that three weeks have flown by! I remember last year after three weeks, I was ready for a break! But right now I still have the stamina to keep going before we take a break, which is a good thing because we're not scheduled for a break for a while! I have light weeks scheduled as we did last year, but fewer of them and more spread apart. We'll see how long we can last at this pace. Thanks for visiting our blog!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Our First Weekly Report of the 2010-2011 Year!

It's hard to believe that summer just came and went so fast! But here we are, finished with our first week of our second year of homeschooling. This year, we are continuing with My Father's World and using their Exploring Countries and Cultures curriculum, which will give the kids a great foundation in world geography and hopefully a heart for missions as well, which is a strong emphasis in the MFW curriculum overall.

As we did last year, we started off the day with new school supplies--always a hit!--and the boys enjoyed personalizing their bins with stickers they each chose for the occasion. And this year, we added in "school photos" which I have seen many other homeschoolers do and which seemed an excellent idea. So here are our three students:

"Dobby", our 3 year old/preschooler

"Ron", our Kindergartener/5 year old

And "Harry," our 3rd grader/8 year old

(My attempt at making cute name tags with their grade levels didn't quite work!
Better luck next year!)

We started off the year by having the boys apply for "passports" to allow them to visit all the countries we'll be studying this year. Hanging up on the wall in the top row is a group of photos of children from around the world that I found on sale at Lakeshore Learning last year and that came in handy!

In the meantime, little brother Dobby was having fun discovering his new Grasshopper Kit. He seems to really love them so far!

Harry and Ron also created posters with images of people from around the world, to reflect the truth that God loves the entire world, and did an investigation of our backyard habitat as a way to enter into the subject of ecosystems, which we'll be studying in science this year.

We also dug up earthworms after a rainy morning for another science experiment, and Sean was brave enough to transfer them to the bowl we were using:

And below is the container where the worms will happily burrow and mix up the sand and the soil as they are designed to do!

So, as you can see, Ron joins in on science and geography as much as he can; I also spend some time with him in MFW-Kindergarten activities while Harry is doing his independent work. More next time on specific curriculum choices, but for now, suffice it to say that we are still finalizing some of our choices!

Nevertheless, the boys seemed to have a good week. Harry and Ron even gave me lovely drawings to thank me for a fun week of school. These kinds of mementos make it all worth it!