December 22, 2011
We thank the Lord this year for his goodness and faithfulness towards our family. Our children are growing and maturing in the Lord and it is a joy to watch.
I'm treasuring the season we are in right now of nurturing their hearts with the truth of the Word and helping them grow in character.
After a few months of break from writing in my blog, I'm excited to start back next week and share with you what we've been up to.
"Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him!" Psalm 34:8
Brad, Ely, Caleb, Noah & Sarah
August 22, 2011
August 09, 2011
This project became more and more a science experiment as they tried different shades and predicted which ones will look better together.
We are loving these projects based on real art works. I believe more and more than art is more about the process. :)
August 03, 2011
July 28, 2011
July 16, 2011
This was good for Sarah as she practice where each part goes. Fun way to use leftovers. :)
July 08, 2011
Inspired by Klee's "The Golden Fish"
Last night, the boys worked on making this paiting by mixing oil pastels and watercolors. The goal was to make the big fish "glow". It was a fun way to end our day.
July 01, 2011
June 25, 2011
Our curriculum choices are not complete until we add some "fun extras" to the mix. This year our extras came in a box from Timberdoodle. The kids were playing in the cul-de-sac when the UPS truck showed up (have I ever told you he knows us by name?.....that's for another post.....we do keep him quite busy). The boys knew it was for them so asked if they could open the box right away. I was planning on hiding till the school year began but couldn't resist so here's the picture of the box opened in the cul-de-sac and yes, one of my boys was already playing with his Thinking Putty (see top left corner of picture?).
So here are the fun extras....
For Caleb: Magnets kit (that we will use this summer)
For Noah: Glow in the dark and Metallic Thinking Putty (this has been great to help him concentrate on his school work)
For both boys: GeoPuzzles (we ordered Europe, Asia, Africa & Middle East)
For Sarah: Lauri's Uppercase and Lowercase ABC Puzzles
What fun extras are you adding to your school for next year?
We recently completed our first year of "Friday School" with a local First Class Homeschool Ministries Coop. It was one of the greatest blessings for our family this year. The boys had a chance to be part of a more structured classroom environment where they learned and made new friends. Some of the classes they took included: Music, P.E., Community Helpers, Lego Robotics, Space, Art, Health and Hands-On Math. Sarah also got to be part of the program and enjoy toddler classes with storytime, simple crafts and games.
Being a Coop, the parents (and grandparents) have a very important role. We help teach or assist classes, monitor hallways and help in other ways like setting up and cleaning up. We all play an important part and help each other carry the load.
A typical day at First Class includes: chapel time, 3 blocks of classes, snack time and closing session. All moms get a free block to interact in the parent room, make new friends and share encouragement. Our coop also offers regular park dates, field trips and moms night out.
What I love the most about First Class...
~It is an answer to prayer! I first heard about First Class from Steve and Jane Lambert at the Five in a Row message boards. They spoke very highly of the founders of First Class and after reading through their website I loved their vision for homeschooling families. There were talks about starting a group like this in Illinois but during that time we were making our way down to Texas. After trying 3 different local support groups, I still did not find one that was the right fit for us. Some were non-sectarians, others did not offer classes, others put too much emphasis on academics and most were too expensive for our one income family.
~First Class is affordable and effective, I definitely love that!
~It gives my children the opportunity to have wholesome socialization while enjoy wonderful classes that enrich their learning at home.
~I've made some wonderful friendships with the moms and have come to know and love a very diverse group of women. It is encouraging to see how we are growing in love for each other, serving one another in our times of need and encouraging one another as home educators.
~It is a place to use and grow your gifts and abilities. Some moms are naturally better at teaching a subject or are great at organizing activities or recruiting people or at leading the chapel time, etc. We all bless each other with what the Lord has entrusted to us.
~We get to decide what we want our children to learn. I love that because I do like to be in control of what my kids are learning and at First Class we share classes ideas before each semester starts.
~We meet 8-10 weeks per semester. That is perfect for us. It is enough to be enjoyed and not overload the kids or the moms. :)
June 22, 2011
...I love my little bookworm! He did switched legs every 2-3 minutes. I think this picture makes a pretty memorable first box day. And I think he is going LOVE Sonlight!
June 21, 2011
Primarily we've used Five in a Row. The boys did 2 years of Before Five in a Row and just a few months ago we completed Volume 3 of Five in a Row! It sounds silly but for me is the completion of a wonderful journey since FIAR was our boys' first introduction to learning through books. And I can't wait to introduce Sarah to all the great stories and learning activities that FIAR offers.
We are going to wait to use Volume 4 until Noah is a little older and in the meantime, we are switching to a different curriculum for our core learning.......
We will start Sonlight in September with Core B. We are only doing their History, Readers and Read Aloud (the basic Core). Core B is an Introduction to World History from Creation to the Fall of Rome. It also includes Geography, missionary stories, Bible reading and memorization, timeline activities and stories to read aloud. I also ordered the 3rd grade readers for Caleb and one add-on music and art appreciation.
I first heard of Sonlight when Caleb was 3 years old and I was searching online for curriculum. At the time it appealed to me but felt I didn't want to spend that money for preschool. :) So we did Five in A Row instead since I could find most of those book at the library. But for some reason, from time to time I requested a Sonlight catalog and loved many of the book selections they made. I knew one day we would have to try this curriculum.
I value good literature for our children so I'm looking forward to the many read alouds we will do together and the great books Caleb will be reading on his own as well.
This is a big change for me as a teacher too. I enjoy creating lesson plans for our boys and putting things together for us to do and enjoy. It takes more preparation time but it's proven to be rewarding for me and the boys. Sonlight's has a teacher's guide with the weekly lessons completely laid out for you. I know it will take time for me to get used to but this will allow me to have time to prepare fun things for Sarah's "tot school".
Tomorrow I will share pictures from our first "Box Day".
June 20, 2011
In homeschooling, as our children are growing and we are entering our sixth year of homeschooling (that's counting Caleb's 2 wonderful preschool years, of course...just 4th of "academics"), I finally feel comfortable with their learning styles, strenghts and weaknesses.
So, if you are on the beginning stages of your journey, take heart! It does get easier to choose curriculum. :)
With so many wonderful choices out these, it is always tempting to try something new. But most of the time that is not wise, especially if you are a one income family.
At the end of each school year I like to evaluate what worked best and what we will replace. Last year we made some new changes and some of those were our favorites things this year.
What Worked BEST And Will Use Again:
#1 Primary Mathematics (Singapore Math): This was definitely the best new thing we added last year. It made a huge difference in the way our kids see and are learning math and in the way I for the very first time enjoy teaching it!
#2 Reading Made Easy: I taught Caleb how to read with this program and he is doing fantastic. Reading now anything that he encounters and with great decoding skills. Noah has 25 more lessons to go on this book so he will continue those through the summer and continue reading early reader books. He needs more frequent reviews of phonics than Caleb did so I added the Reading Made Easy Activity Books and that has worked well for him.
#3 Hanwriting Without Tears: Another favorite at our house. We love the gentle and effective approach of this program. I appreciate the short lessons instead of long pages full of busy work. Caleb will begin their cursive program and Noah will continue printing.
#4 Critical Thinking Company: The boys can't get enought of these books. We will continue using "Mind Benders", 'Thinker Doodles", "Language Smarts". I do not use these daily but "sprinkle" their school days with these workbooks to vary things a little bit and make sure they are working on logic, spatial and reasoning skills.
#5 Evan Moor's Daily Trait Writing:This has worked great for Caleb. The lessons are short. One writing assignment at the end of the week. He has grown in confidence and it gives him extra handwriting practice. He will continue using this program for grade 3.
#6 Sequential Spelling: Very pleased with our first year with this program. It proved to be a bit advance for Caleb but we resumed it in January and he was ready for it then. His spelling has improved a lot. I like the simple yet effective approach of Sequential Spelling. We will finish book 1 this summer and move into book 2.
NEW Curriculum Choices We Can't Wait To Start Using:
And now....I'm sooooo excited to share the NEW things we are adding for the next school year.....
#1 Exploring Creation with Astronomy (Young Explorer Series from Apologia): woohoo! We are starting our very first formal science program. Up until now our science have been unit studies based and we have loved every minute of it. The boys have learned a lot and we covered a variety of topics. But I realized Caleb was craving for a more sequential study of science so this is our choice. We will begin our first year (hopefully of many) with this series. I was so impressed at how much Charlotte Mason is in it and can't wait to start using it. And with Space Center and the Observartory at Brazos Bend so near us, this will definitely be a great science year for us.
#2 Language Lessons for the Very Young/Elementary Child (Queens Homeschooling): we will use this as our core program for language arts. It is also Charlotte Mason and covers picture study, narrations, copywork, poem memorization and grammar. Noah will start this after he finishes Reading Made Easy.
Would LOVE to hear from anyone who have used Apologia or Language Lessons. What did you like/dislike? How did you implement it to your routine?
I will write a separate post on Bible/character building because for us that is more than academics.
And there is still one more NEW choice but you will have to wait until tomorrow for that one...
June 18, 2011
Everything else will be THEIR choice! After all, isn't that one of the wonderful benefits of a home education? The students can have a greater input on what they want to learn about.
So here are the boys' choices:
*Magnets and electromagnetism
*More Piano (yey!)
*More Spanish (wow, this one really surprised me)
*Nature Walks (my nature lover since age 2)
*Cooking (my hands-on learner)
*More Art projects (again....hands-on)
*Pirates (2nd time around)
Looks like we are going to have a fun summer learning!
We will also have read-alouds of course. Caleb will read Pilgrim's Progress (the "little" version) for the very first time. And we will be reading Lamplighters books and re-read ALL the Five in A Row books we owned one last time...(for now since Sarah will start her FIAR journey soon) before we begin in the fall our new curriculum I will announce soon!
I love homeschooling!
It's the blog of Doorposts! They have a section called "Weekly Character Projects". I'm linking here to the projects archives page. If you are looking to add more character building into your daily routine, read through some of their ideas. As always Pam, does such a wonderful at writing simple but meaningful lessons for children and of course, I find myself learning and being challenged right along too.
Hope it blesses your family and encourage you as you teach your children. :)