Friday, May 17, 2013

Homeschool Rewind-Day 1, Year 1

I use to keep a blog about our adoption journey. Then I finally transitioned over to this blog about our family in general. But tonight I went back over to that old blog.  It has almost 200 posts as I chronicled the adoption of our Princess-the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Anyway, as I was rereading some of my posts I came across this one from our very 1st days of homeschooling that made me chuckle.  My, we have come so far in the past 2 years(praise God!).  The kids now love free time and have no trouble finding things to keep them occupied(crafts, inventing new games, sewing, etc).  But just coming out of brick and mortar school things were much different. And I laugh at my maps and color coordination( ok i still think that one is a good idea, but everyone just lost everything). Not that maps are bad, we still have maps, the whole set up is just not who we are, I just didn't know that at the time. ;)

August 3rd, 2011

My blog is seriously lacking, I know.  *hanging my head in shame*

I have just been enjoying summer and now life has gotten busy.

We were planning on starting homeschooling after Labor Day but the kids begged to start the 1st of August.  Sissy was the most excited but she loves school and we both get giddy at the sight of school supplies.  Who doesn't like a good highlighter??

So we set up the school room downstairs in the basement.  Got maps hanging on the walls, a dry erase board, a cork board for art projects, shelves with all of our art supplies organized and labeled.  Each kid has their own colored crate and that color goes with everything they have-their folder, their sharpener, crayon box, highlighter, dry erase marker, etc etc.  That way no one can say, "She has mine!"  Brilliant,I know.

So our first day went ok, a little dragging of course with all the explaining and the kids getting a feel for it all.  I planned on having Bubba and Sissy do their studies down in the school room on their own while Snuggle Bug and I did work upstairs in the dining room with Princess.  But of course Snuggle Bug 'wanted to be in the school room too!'( can you hear the whininess in my voice?).  So that made it more difficult to keep track of Princess and she had a melt down or two.

So day two( yesterday), I sat Princess  in front of the laptop with Signing Time DVD on.  She sat and watched it  TWO TIMES!!  Ok she has never ever ever ever done that.  She loves the DVD's but she usually flits around while they are on.  Then when she finally started to get restless, I gave her play doh.  She was totally content and she was actually doing something meaningful.  Success!

But then something peculiar happened.  Something that I did not expect.  I received a note in the 'in' box where all assignments are turned in each day.  It was from my precious Sissy, who was so excited about homeschooling.  I thought,"Oh, she is going to say how much fun she is having and how much she like me teaching her."  You know what's coming right?

She said she hated homeschooling.  *BLAM!*  Hit me out of left field.

Now, I know it was only our second day.  We are just trying to find our groove, find what works best for us etc etc.  And I stressed to the kids all this but it still was TOTALLY unexpected from her.  Now the child I thought who would give the most resistance, Bubba, is the one who is more into it.  ????

I feel like I have entered a Freaky Friday movie.

So I put my hurt feelings aside and really examined the issue.  I have given the kids some review multiplication and division papers to do for now until I get their Teaching Textbooks( fun online math).  She was really having problems with those papers.  I reminded her that we would be getting the computer math soon and I pulled all the math worksheets for the rest of the week. Time for Plan B.

I replaced them with a fun multiplication matching game for both her and Bubba to play and then they will play an online MATHO(Bingo) game tomorrow.  I also planned and announced a field trip in 2 weeks.  When all else fails, plan a field trip.

They were super excited.  I had also planned on going outside with them this morning for their work to spice things up, but it was damp and yucky out so we decided to stay in and we'll go out this afternoon later to do the rest of our work.

Another issue I addressed.  We do school in the morning and then after lunch I just left it as free time.  But by the sounds of Sissy's letter that's not what she wanted.  SO I asked everyone this morning,"Do you want free time in the afternoon or more structured fun things like an art project or going out somewhere ,etc?"  

Everyone shouted ,"STRUCTURED!"

Now I am a bit leery of that because I think kids find it hard to keep themselves occupied or self motivated at times because they are used to being just told what to do or pointed in a certain direction, not a whole lot of free thinking going on.  So I am deciding how I want to balance that.   Maybe just a list of possible things and everyone takes turns picking( whether it be from a craft list, or an outing listing etc).  At least I am not dictating their every minute.

I did plan the field trip right at the same time that school starts around here.  I they will be feeling left out and it will be a good distraction for them.

I have already had moments of panic and fear. "What am I doing??"  "I can't do this!"  "My kids are going to go back to public school at one point and be totally behind their peers!"  That kind of fear and panic.  But I have had to just calm myself, regroup, focus and consult God.

And today is only Day 3 of school LOL  It gets better I know.  I am enjoying it personally.  I also think some of the resistance is that I am really challenging the kids.  Not only do they have to study their spelling but they need to know what the words mean.  I don't keep grades, but I do go over their papers and make them correct if necessary.  I look for effort and improvement.  My kids beat themselves up over grades.  One missed thing on a paper and Bubba starts self loathing.  So I have to be careful.

I think the kids haven't gotten to see the flexibility quite yet in homeschooling.  Like, because we started so early, we will take the entire holidays off.  We'll stop right before Thanksgiving and not go back till after the New year.  And I just read an article where one family always gives the kids their Bdays off!  I love that!  And we'll still have 8 extra days to play with from starting in August.

Nothing like some good old fashioned perspective to put things in place.  And my kids still get their Bdays off of school and Snuggle Bug actually had today off as he turned 8(EIGHT?!).  So there are a few things that I have kept from those very early first days.  I am so glad I took the plunge to homeschool  even though it was incredibly scary.  

“The key to change is to let go of fear."
~ Rosanne Cash ~

Many Blessings,
The Mama

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Cowboy Theme Day

We had my 5 year old nephew B  stayed with us yesterday and today and he informed his mom that he was expecting me to have lessons all planned out for him -PRESSURE!  LOL  So we decided to quick throw together a cowboy themed study.  He loves Sheriff Woody. It was Sissy's idea.  But we made this study  span from kindergarten age all the way up to 6th grade.

So this is what we did.  1st, you got to act the part.  So i had my hair in pigtail braids, flannel shirt and spoke with my best southern twang.  Then we pulled a couple of our artificial trees into the living room for atmosphere and made this "fire" on the rug.

just Christmas lights, red tissue paper, brown construction paper for logs.

After we got B in his cowboy gear(hat,boots, bandanna, and made him a quick vest using the backside of wrapping paper and drew on black spots like Woody has) we discussed WHY cowboys wore those things. That site has tons of great cowboy ideas and I will mention it again coming up.

  Then we discussed  what we knew about a cowboy.  I found this website that told a bit about where cowboys came from( section in green).  Then we read the following book from the library:

I made a point to schedule something that would let everyone move around since we had been sitting for a little while.  So I devised this cowboy themed math tag game(I am so pleased with myself about this one!)

So here is how it goes.  We had 5 kids so I taped numbers 1-5 on each of their backs  That was their "brand".  We just took 4 plastic chairs and make kind of a square using those are the corner.  That was our pen/corral.  Then for the 5 year old I drew cowboy hats on plain paper.  Each paper corresponding with the number 1-5.

You will see in the top left some algebra problems that have the solutions that are 1-5 for my 6th grader.  Then to the right of those are fractions for my 5th grader.  Then subtraction are for my 2nd grader and then the hats are for kindergarten.  This is was above Princesses capacity so no matching for her.

The "cattle" wore their brands(number 1-5) and then depending on which child was being the cowboy, I help up their problems to solve.  Once they figured out the answer to the problem they had to go  get that cow and bring him/her into the corral(chairs).  Bubba made our jump rope into a lasso( one of the handles are gone so it made it safe to use) and that is how you 'tagged' your cow.  Then the cowboy just had to stay behind it while riding their stick horse(just one of those toy ones) to guide their cow.  Once one child completed all their problems and wrangling the next child was the cowboy and the other joined the cattle.  

This was a HUGE hit and they played this, without math facts later in their free time.

Then we headed inside to make some trail mix, sit by the "fire" and sing camp songs.  We chose I'm a Little Cowpoke and a Cowboy version of She'll be Coming Around the Mountain.

Then we moved onto learning about Horses.  We already had this book so I just used this, but just read a few things off of each page as it really went into depth.  The older kids could delve more into that later if they wanted.

We began again by asking everyone what they knew about horses then we watched  a youtube video on horse facts (we muted the music).  The slides go rather fast though, so I read them aloud and sometimes paused lengthier slides.  My kids like fun facts so that is why we chose this particular video.  
We also watched  how to ride a horse. We used our stick horse to put some different blankets on for each layer that goes on a horses back and then practiced mounting properly and how you would direct a horse.

I would have LOVED to arrange to visit a horse and get info straight from a person that cares for the horses, but this all was thrown together the night before so I didn't have time to arrange anything.

 The next day we focused on Texas, rodeos and armadillos and crafts.

This is a very fun book yet very accurate with details and facts.  This was another check out from our Library.  This book led us into an armadillo craft and learning about rodeos.

The kids cut a paper plate in half and then cut construction paper pieces to glue on along with a head.  We talked about how God created the armadillos with their 'armor'. I also played a couple cute videos of armadillos while they did their craft.  And yes, everyone wants a pet armadillo now.

Then we talked about what a rodeo was and I showed a few rodeo clips including of course, some bull riding gone wrong.  The last is a graphic video though the rider was miraculously unhurt.  My kids can handle that and asked to watch some of those types of mishaps after watching some regular bull riding on youtube.

That led us right into Texas where bull riding originated.  I got some facts about the Lonestar state, pulled out a map to locate it.  We just talked about the official flower( which we looked back up in the Armadillo Rodeo book), the size of the state, cattle to person ratio, the motto, the weather( I had already cranked our heat up to simulate the warmth since we were suppose to already be in Texas), the state tree( everyone would have gotten to try a pecan but they had gone bad) and of course, the State Mammal( smallest)- the armadillo.  

Everyone made their own Bluebonnet flowers 
This was a craft you used just your fingerprints to make. 
Use white paper so some of the white can show through a bit(ideally).

I just did a little sight word game for my nephew, though everyone played along.  I found the idea for it on this blog. I had traced the state of texas on white paper( hold it up to your computer and trace pic), then cut that out and used that as a stencil on red construction paper. I put several beginning reader words on each state cut out

My nephew drew out each word and I helped him read them.  Then he had to find them on the sheet I made up( I found something similar to this online but my printer is broke so I had to do it by hand) and color the correct word in.  When each word was colored in then he helped the cowboy get to his boot.

Now remember, during this entire 2 days you have to continue in character! We referred to our house as the ranch and talked about coming Texas here and always with a southern drawl.  We got milk and talked about milking our cows(we have no cows).  We all just played it up and everyone was named Cowboy or Cowgirl so and so.  No such thing as over acting with this!

Then I put together just a very simple homemade booklet(remember that my printer is broke!).  Just some construction paper on front and back tied with some yarn.  

The inside was just lined paper with some simple questions that I asked and then would fill in whatever answer my nephew had.  You could certainly do this for the other ages but remember, I through this all together last minute?  So time was not my friend.

The 4 pages talked about a different topic we discussed: Cowboys, Horses, Armadillos and Texas. And obviously by the answers my nephews gave, juice is not something they can have. Out of the mouth of babes, right?.  For the armadillo he said they couldn't eat mac n cheese.  

My nephew asked at the beginning of the day on Thursday when he arrived to our craziness if he would get a badge like Woody.  I said if he completed the cowboy training then yes he would.  So I cut out a star and put a little glitter on it and use tape to "laminate" it.  I just used more tape to secure the pin.

And viola!

And the best part- when he went home to his parents and they asked what he learned he said,"Nothing." 
Why does that make me happy?  Because he didn't REALIZE he was learning!  

We were experiencing and living learning =)

Many Blessings,
The Mama