Archive for the ‘Homeschooling’ Category

Weekly Wrap-Ups

I’ve fallen behind in my homeschool weekly wrap-ups, so this is a quick recap of the past three weeks or so.

Art Classes – most of the kids have been taking art classes on Tuesday mornings.  Each week there is a different project and they incorporate learning in as well, either about an artist and their style or technique or about social studies or science.  Their favourite one by far was the African Masks.  This one made by Sedaya impressed the instructors and I was blown away:

Gracelyn (who loves art) also took a 4 week sketching class on Fridays and really enjoyed that.

Drama – Eliana and Sedaya took two drama classes, one on Musical Theatre and one on Movement in Theatre.  Combining their love for dance, singing, and drama made the Musical Theatre one a favourite for them and true to form, my dramatic divas gave quite a performance at the end!!!

Cross Country Skiing – Jonah, Gracelyn, Josiah, and Elijah have all been taking cross country ski lessons.  This is the first year that our community has offered them to homeschoolers and the two hours of fresh air and exercise ensures that they sleep soundly those nights!

Swimming – Jonah completed the last level of swimming last session, so he isn’t taking lessons this time, but Eliana is now old enough that she can go and she is thrilled!  She could hardly sleep for a week before swimming started.  She has been watching her older siblings go off to their lessons for years and she could hardly wait for her turn!  The added bonus of course is that my mom usually takes them to their swimming lessons and to the one hour free swim after lessons, so getting to spend time with Gramma only makes it that much better!  Gracelyn, Josiah, Elijah, and Eliana are all taking lessons and on Early Dismissal days, Mackenzie has been joining them for the free swim afterwards.

“School” – With all those activities and Jonah’s hockey, it’s a wonder that we get any actual work done, but we have managed to.  We have worked our way up to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in the Story of the World, started a new devotion book, and have been learning about money.  The three 8/9 year olds are using workbooks called Canadian Money.  Jonah is working on Daily Grams, spelling, devotions, Math, writing activities, a novel study, and a Map book.  Josiah is also working his way through a Daily Grams book.  We are all still doing a fair bit of memory work…a poem, quotes, and scripture verses.

Blind Taste Test – I saw this bottle of a new version of Pepsi called Pepsi Throwback and I decided to set up a blind taste test to see which I preferred.  I let Jonah and Mackenzie do it with me too just for fun.  The younger kids all wanted to play too, but I’m pretty strict about letting them drink colas, so instead, I made them a blind taste test using water from the tap and water from the water cooler.  It was just for fun, but it gave us the chance to discuss blind studies, placebos, how expectations affect results, and marketing.

To read weekly wrap-ups of other families and get great ideas, go to Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.


Weekly Wrap-Up

Finally, I am posting another one of these.  I drifted out of the habit, which I regret, but there’s nothing like the start of a new year to spur me on!  This is a recap of our homeschool week.  To read other families’ wrap-ups, check out Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Our morning devotions and prayer time are still going really well thanks to our handy book, “30 Very Veggie Devos About Honesty”.  I know that a Veggie Tales devotional is below the age level for my kids, but it’s very adaptable to their level and works really well.  We’ve never done any type of family devotions before and this is a great way to start.  We are getting close to being finished the book though.  Does anyone have any suggestions for a good devotional to do next?

We did this simple science experiment Colour Changing Crystals.

The kids continued their memory work with quotes, scripture, and the poem we have been working on forever, “The Tyger” (hope to finish that up soon – I perhaps should have chosen a shorter poem, especially for my kids who have only been speaking English for a year!)

The big thing this week was learning to tell time.  Three of the kids got watches for Christmas and are eager to learn.  The “time” to learn is when your kids are excited and want to learn, so this was the perfect opportunity.  We started by practising counting by 5’s.  I have found that the best way to really instil this in your kids in a way they will remember is to combine it with a physical activity.  This helps to train their brains.  What I have them do for this is to stand up and jump from side to side as we count by 5’s.  This also is great for perking them up in the mornings!!!  So we started each of our telling time sessions by this jumping and counting by 5’s several times and then we used little practise clocks I have where they can move the hands on the clocks and play around.  I had printer worksheets for them.  (I guess I should mention that “them” is my three eight-turning-nine year olds.)  Josiah got the concept quickly and was ready to move past the hour and half hour learning that we started with, but Gracelyn and Elijah are still needing more practise.  We worked on telling time each homeschool day this week (every day but Wednesday) and I think by next week, we will be able to move on to quarter past and quarter to.

We progressed quite a bit through Story of The World this week, getting through The Assyrians, The First Cities of India, and The Mystery of Mohenjo-Daro.  This made for a few really good discussions and the kids completed all the corresponding maps and coloring sheets.

From a great grandma in Saskatchewan the kids received some Christmas money, so I had each of them make her a painting, picture, card, or written letter as a thank you, depending on their age and we mailed them off.

Jonah, (age 13) did a book report, some new Spelling worksheets, devotions, Daily Grams, a study of African slave trading, and began a story written as though he were on a slave trading ship heading for America.  In my de-cluttering of the office, I also managed to find a novel study that he had started and not finished, so he took up where he left off in that.  He also did his usual reading of several novels and spent an afternoon at Galaxyland with some friends and went to a youth group event.

Next week, the kids’ activities start up and Tuesdays and Wednesdays will be jam packed for the next while with drama classes, art classes, cross country ski lessons, and swimming lessons.  That’s about it for this week…hope you all had a good week too!


New Year, New Goals

I just love fresh starts.  I may have mentioned that hundreds of times already in previous posts, but it is so true!  I just love the possibilities that fresh starts bring.  So, of course, I am the sort of person who makes New Year’s Resolutions, though I have gotten better at making them over the years.  I used to write things like “get healthy” or “be better at…”.  Those types of non-specific, non-measurable goals are impossible to attain.  Now, I keep my resolutions more specific and I make a sublist to go along with them to outline how I am going to go about achieving them.  I won’t bore you with all of my goals this year, but there are a few that I will share, including one in which I have put myself “out there” so to speak publicly to increase the chances that I achieve it by being accountable.

One of my goals is to set an alarm on weekdays and wake up before my kids do.  Yuck!!!  I am a night owl.  I have to force myself to go to bed before midnight and mornings are not my friend.  Normally, I drag myself out of bed when the kids get up, which is sometime between 7 and 8 a.m. and more often than not, I lie there wishing I could go back to sleep.  But I know that in order to homeschool the way that I want to, I need to get off to a better start and greet my kids each morning with a cheerful heart so that their days get started in the right way as well.

This morning, I set my alarm for a few minutes before 7 and when it went off, I admit to briefly entertaining thoughts of going back to sleep, but I stuck to my plan and got up, had a shower, and was dressed when the first of my kids started to come into my bathroom.  I was able to greet them with a smile and “good morning” instead of a grumpy, “what time is it?”  Later, while the kids were eating their breakfast at the kitchen table, I brought in our devotions book and read to them while they ate and then we started our day off with a prayer before we went into the homeschool room to start their math and history lesson.  Wow!  What a different way to start the day!!!  Everyone is so much more cheerful than usual today, even still, hours later.  Mornings are generally the time in our house with the most bickering, squabbles over toothpaste and toys, or downright fights between the boys!  This morning, the sounds in the house have been different and that is reward enough for me to be willing to set my alarm again for tomorrow morning.

The public goal I have set is one that I have some trepidation about, both because achieving it overwhelms me and because I am scared that I will fail and also because admitting that I have this problem and being completely real and honest about it is frankly, embarrassing.  I have given myself a Challenge, a De-Cluttering Challenge.  To follow along on my progress and to see the pictures that I so did not want to share, you can check out Day 1 here and Day 2 here.  Now that I have shared those pictures, I want to go and hide, but I can’t because, as you can see, I have work to do!!!

So, what are your goals for 2011?

Weekly Wrap Up – Honesty

This week in homeschool was a good one.  As it was mid-November and hadn’t yet snowed, we made our own snow in Science.

The kids had fun trying different things with the “snow” like putting it in the freezer to get crunchy and adding more water to it to make it slushy.  I think making our own snow may have been a mistake though because the next day, the real stuff came and today, it’s minus 25* Celsius!

Tuesday, the three eight year olds went to a homeschool art class.  It was on Mirrored Canadian Landscapes.  Their projects were neat.  They made a scene in pastels on one end of the paper and then created the mirror image of the scene in torn bits of paper.

We did the usual stuff like Math, Memory work, Bible, Printing, Daily Grams, Spelling, etc.

In Story of the World, we were studying Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs and the kids all wrote out their names in hieroglyphs.

Josiah made this to welcome Mark and Mackenzie home from Ethiopia:

For over a month now, we have been doing this little book called “30 Very Veggie Devotions about Honesty”.  It’s Veggie Tales daily devotions that I assume are directed towards preschoolers, but they are easily adaptable to school-aged kids as well.  I have really been enjoying them as the daily lesson gives us a starting point for a discussion, provides relevant Bible verses and quotes, and ends with a short prayer about what we have learnt.  Now that we have been doing these devotions on a regular basis, I have been noticing two things.  First, that we are starting our homeschool mornings in prayer because of this, which is a great way to start a day.  I take the tiny prayer provided at the end of the devotion and add to it specific things about our family and those we know or know of who need prayer.  The kids sometimes give suggestions for the prayer as well.  The second thing I have noticed is that the honesty lessons are paying off.  There have been some great topics so far such as the boy who cried wolf and how lying becomes a habit, as can telling the truth.  When we were having our devotion the other day, Sedaya suddenly piped up and said, “mommy, I need to tell you the ‘trufe’ about something.  I took the syrop and went like this (motion of glugging the syrop into her mouth!).”  I stifled a laugh and told her that I was proud of her honesty and reminded her that syrop should go on pancakes, waffles, or crepes, and went on with the lesson.  I have noticed that all of our kids have been making more of an effort to be truthful in general and have been admitting to things more readily since we began these devotions.  I never would have believed that this little Veggie Tales book would have made such a difference in our family.  I even hear the kids talking amongst themselves about honesty because of it.

This afternoon, we are off to a field trip at the library with some other homeschoolers.  If anything exciting happens there, I’ll be sure to get some pictures.

Weekly Wrap-Up

This week in our little homeschool was a great one!  On the teacher front (that would be me!), I was able to attend a wonderful homeschool meeting and prayer time with other moms which gave me a few new ideas and helped recharge me.  Here are some of the other things that went on this week:

We talked a lot about the future, different careers options, family, that kind of thing and the kids made a mini book for their “All About Me” lapbooks entitled “the future” in which they answered questions such as “when I grow up, I will…” and “my wish for the world is…”  They had wonderful answers and it was sweet to hear their dreams of a day when there will be no orphans in the world, everyone will have access to clean water, no one will be hungry, and they will be mommies or firemen or a builder and take their kids camping and when they will do anything for God.

On the subject of careers and future, we were able to take a field trip to a firehall, which was especially great for my younger boys because Josiah wants to be a fireman when he grows up and Elijah says he may want to be a fireman.  Before the field trip, I had the kids make the firemen a card or draw them a picture to say thank you for what they do and we brought cookies for them, which they seemed to like!

Look at their expressions as they look into this special camera that detects changes in heat and see how cold my nose is compared to the rest of my face!

a peek into the future perhaps?!

Here, Josiah and Elijah are checking out some of the equipment on one of the rescue trucks.

At the field trip, the kids also got to sit in a firetruck and go into the back of an ambulance and have their oxygen levels checked.  They got a tour of the fire hall, got to hold a fire hose, and were able to ask any questions they had.  The field trip was two hours long and there were many other homeschoolers there.  The kids really enjoyed it!

Also this week, we talked about “loyalty” and focused on that as our character quality of the week after it came up during a study of Benjamin Franklin using the Nest video and corresponding workbook.  Loyalty is actually a pretty difficult concept to explain to younger kids and it was much harder to find examples of the kids being loyal during the rest of the week than it had been to find examples of them taking initiative the weeks before.  Anyone have any good suggestions for reinforcing the loyalty concept?

As Thursday was Remembrance Day, we talked about the sacrifices servicemen and women have made for our freedom and the kids did a colouring sheet of the poem In Flanders Field and I read it to them and tried to get some of the older ones to memorize it.

Other than that, we did the usual…Math, memory work with quotes, scripture, and poetry, Devotions, Daily Grams, Story of the World – we are doing Ancient Egypt right now and I have decided to take some extra time on that with other activities next week as it’s really interesting for the kids, and I am reading “Ramona and Her Father” to the kids every day.  I loved Beverly Cleary as a girl and it’s bringing back wonderful memories for me, but I have to say that the chapters are incredibly long!  One more to go and then we are done though and moving on to another book.  Oh, and the kids had swimming lessons on Wednesday.

Jonah is continuing to read a book every couple of days, Gracelyn still loves practising art, and Josiah just started journal writing this week.

If you want to read more homeschool weekly wrap-ups, go over to Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers and check them out.

Another Benefit of Teaching Initiative

a tray with a napkin, a glass of water with a ribbon, my favourite chocolates, and a sweet note just for me!

Weekly Wrap Up – Initiative

This week weekly homeschool wrap up (read more wrap ups at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers) is best summed up by sharing our biggest success this week…our lesson in “initiative”.  I had noticed that one or two of my kids will regularly do something that needs to be done without being asked, while the rest of them will walk past a wrapper on the floor without so much as bending down to pick it up and tossing it in the garbage, even if it is their own wrapper!  Wanting to change this, what I did was take note the week before of the times when someone in the family took initiative and did something without being told to and wrote these incidents down so that I would remember.  It was a very short list.  At the beginning of the homeschool week, I wrote down the word “initiative” on the white board and the definition and then we talked about what it really means in a practical sense and how it can positively impact a family.  I then read out the examples I had of people who had taken initiative the week before one at a time, praising that person and then we all clapped for each of the examples and gave them a “hip hip hooray”.  They were beaming!  Next, I gave some concrete examples of how we could all practise initiative and told them that their biggest assignment this week was to show initiative.  Every day, I gave a pleasant reminder in the morning that we should all be on the lookout for ways to show initiative and praised specifically each example of initiative from the previous day.  Wow!  The response has been incredible!  This is actually the second week and I have little ones running around picking things up and saying “mommy, I’m doing initiative”, eight year olds who I “catch” emptying the dishwasher because they noticed that it was done washing, and even older kids who seem to be pitching in a bit more!  Conclusion of this experiment…initiative is a lesson worth teaching!

These pictures were done by Eliana and Gracelyn at one of their art classes, entitled Pop Art, about making pictures using small dots a la Roy Lichtenstein.  Pop Art was the art class last week that five of the kids attended.  This week’s art class was Assemblage Sculpture and I have no photos of the results from that one.

Jonah has started hockey and four of the kids have started swimming lessons.  Jonah is in level 10 and is thinking he may want to continue on and perhaps train to become an instructor.

We finished reading “The Swamp Robbers (Sugar Creek Gang)” and on Tuesday after coming home from art class, I had the younger kids get their pyjamas back on, snuggle up under blankets, enjoy some treats, and watch “The Swamp Robbers” movie.  Afterwards, we discussed how the movie was different from the book and the power of our imaginations when combined by descriptive language when it comes to reading.

The rest of the time has been the usual…lapbooks, spelling, math, devotions, reading, memory work, and Story of the World.  To finish off, here is a picture Josiah drew of Elijah driving a tractor.