Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rainy Day Crafts

Today is the first rainy day we have had all vacation.  Luckily, I had packed our Kiwi Crates and we were prepared for some indoor fun.  I read about Kiwi Crates when they were reviewed on the homeschooling section of The Pioneer Woman's blog (one of my favorites).  They are crates that come once a month, filled with all of the craft supplies you need for one project.
This month's craft was robots.

The kids had so much fun building robots that moved through mazes using magnets for power (hey, does that count as a science project?).

Even though I could probably replicate what Kiwi Crate does for less money, the point is:  I wouldn't.  I am a bit on the lazy side when it comes to crafting.

We will be using Kiwi Crates even month to ensure that at least ONE art project gets done each month!

 I have also purchased ARTisitic Endeavors, which I have heard is a fantastic program, for the kids' art program.  Of course, I haven't even opened it yet…but I've heard its good, LOL!

I also hope to incorporate some art history/ art appreciation stuff into our American history core, but for right now,  I'm just glad I had a plan for a rainy day.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cape Cod 2012

We are having a blast in Cape Cod!  We have been coming here for 3 years straight, and hopefully it will remain a family summer tradition.  The weather is gorgeous this time of year:  warm but not too hot, with the light starting to change from the glaring sunlight of summer to the golden glow of fall.

I am loving the extra time to read and to plan.  Even with 4 kids to take care of, there is more time for me to think when we are here.  I suppose it is the lack of household duties, the lack of phone calls, and playdates, and trips to the store.  Whatever it is, I have had lots of greatly appreciated time to plan for the school year ahead, to think about the world and our creator, and to just tune in with myself.

We are even starting to homeschool while we are up here…after all, we are studying American history this term, and this is the state in which the pilgrims landed, and where various Native American tribes lived for thousands of years. 

 But for now, we are just chillin' at the beach,

 spending extra time with each other,

 eating some good food,

  loving each other,





 and pondering life.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Our Curriculum

I can't believe we are about to start homeschooling for-real.  We have dabbled with it for a while now -- during the last 2 summers -- but starting next week, when all of our friends' kids go back to school, ours will stay home.  Although I don't believe that all learning has to be done more 'officially' during the months of September through June, it somehow makes it feel more daunting to know that this is the time of year that the majority of America dedicates to educating their youth.  And, since this is our first year, I feel like I have a lot to prove, especially to myself.

Many of my friends have asked what curriculum we are using.  Some are surprised to find out that, at least within our state, a homeschooler can basically teach her children whatever she likes.  There is no official set of guidelines (although I believe you can follow the public school online at home through www.K12.com).  Just for fun, I had looked at a lot of curriculums throughout the years, and Sonlight just stood out.  It is a literature-based unit study program, that can be used for multi-age teaching. It includes a lot of reading aloud to the kids, which I love and believe is so powerful (two of my favorite books on the subject are The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease and Reading Magic by Mem Fox). I have chosen their American history curriculum and will teach history and geography to all of the kids together (of course, different kids will get different things out of the same lesson, at their age and interest level.)  I have also chosen one of Sonlight's science program (Biology, Botany, and Physics) that we can all do together.

Now here comes the tricky part:  I have 2 kids learning to read (but at different levels), 1 advanced reader, and 1 not even close to reading.  How am I going to handle reading and writing?  Well, I have different programs for each child, and I will spend individual time with each child, each day, working on these subjects.  The same with math.  This has been the hardest part of my practice-homeschooling so far:  what to do with the other kids while working one-on-one in English and math?  I have tried centers --  workspaces with assigned topics such as art, writing, or computer for each child to rotate through until their turn with mom -- but the kids have been easily sidetracked and have become impatient for me.  I need to develop more accountability in order for this system to work more smoothly.  Or -- I could have all kids work quietly around me while I do individual lessons (I am just worried about the distractibility factor).  Obviously, this is a work in progress and I will have to come up with a definitive plan…uh, by next week!

We also do art projects together, and the kids practice Spanish, math drills, and reading games on the computer.

Curriculum 2012 - 2013

Ellie (Preschool)
  • Preschool: Before Five in a Row, and listening in on Sonlight Core D with us
  • Art: Kiwi Crates
  • Speech: Ms. Suzy is coming to our house for therapy twice a week (yay!)
  • P.E.: Swimming Lessons and Dance/Tumble
  • Other: Anything fun we’re doing that she wants to be a part of!

Peter (Kindergarten)
 Nicholas (First Grade)

Olivia (3rd grade)