Friday, August 26, 2011

Homeschool Mother's Journal, Aug 26

In my life this week…

This week we celebrated our middle son Cole's 8th birthday. We had a great time celebrating with his friends. Since I'm not a big party planner, I was able to gather his friends together with a few days notice to have a party for Cole with a movie (Kung Fu Panda 2), pizza, playtime, and cupcakes. It's so exciting to watch the kids grow up.

In our homeschool this week…

We start school in a little over a week, so I'm trying to put the final touches on our school plan. This week I finished organizing our History and Bible/Character plan. I'm looking forward to seeing how the boys do with our new school plan.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

Soccer season is underway. Ian and Cole's soccer practices have officially started. Tonight my husband goes in for Bode's team meeting. This will be Bode's first year with AYSO. I love soccer, so this is very exciting. It's also going to be a bit crazy with three soccer team games to balance every Saturday. And my husband will be coaching two of the three teams. Fun Fun Fun!

My favorite thing this week was…

Cole's birthday, of course :)

I’m reading…

In my Bible: the book of 1 Samuel
For Parenting: Mom's Notes
For Fun I finished: Die For Me by Amy Plum
                                Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
                                Supernaturally by Kiersten White

I’m grateful for…

My incredible family, extended family, and friends.

I’m praying for…

We are continuing to pray for my grandmother and father-in-law who are suffering with cancer. We have another friend (only 40 years old) with a recent diagnosis of cancer. And I have a friend in her last trimester of pregnancy whose midwife is expressing some concerns.

A photo to share…

Happy Birthday Cole!

Our School Plan: Bible Study, Virtues, and Character Training

"Train a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old he will not turn from it."
Proverbs 22:6

I'm looking forward to having more structure in the boys' Bible study, virtues, and character training this year. These things are more important than scholastic training, so I've tried to really evaluate our schedule and see how to more effectively implement multiple things. It is important for them to read stories in the Bible and understand the Old and New Testament. It is also important for them to fill their moral warehouse with godly character and virtues, so they can grow to become godly men. So I've chosen books and activities from various sources.

Our Books

Children's Bible by Golden Press (independent)
Extreme Life Quiet Time Journal for Preteens (Ian only)
The Young Peacemaker by Corlette Sande (as a group)

Children's Bible by Golden Press (independent)
Extreme Life Quiet Time Journal for Preteens (Ian only)
The Young Peacemaker by Corlette Sande (as a group)

Children's Bible by Golden Press (independent)
Extreme Life Quiet Time Journal for Preteens (Ian only)
Child's Bible Reader (read aloud with Mom)

Children's Bible by Golden Press (independent)
Extreme Life Quiet Time Journal for Preteens (Ian only)
Building Christian Character by Teacher Creater Materials (activity as a group)
The Children's Book of Virtues by William Bennett (read aloud with Mom)

Children's Bible by Golden Press (independent)
Extreme Life Quiet Time Journal for Preteens (Ian only)
Building Christian Character by Teacher Creater Materials (as a group)
Gracious Living copywork

I've organized folders for the older boys that contain their copywork pages, Peacemaker activity pages, and Christian Character activity pages, already printed and ready to go. Plus I'll be adding some crafts or fun things along the way. I'll also sit wth my youngest and read his Bible stories to him, since he won't be ready for all the independent work yet. Last year I found myself scrambling a lot, so this year I'm trying to stay ahead of the game. Prayerfully this will increase our success.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Our School Plan: History, Term1

After much research and deliberation (and prayer), I've finally come up with our history plan for our first term. Term 1 will be the Renaissance, which we were unable to get to last year. As eager as I am to move forward into American History, I don't want to completely abandon Europe, especially with so many great explorers to explore. Ian and Cole will be doing similar things, with the exception that their individual readings (and writings) will be more appropriate for their grade and reading level. I don't know how eager the boys are, but I am looking forward to this term and hoping for a smoother ride than last year. Of course, the schedule will be modified as needed, but it is nice to have a plan in place to start.

The World of Columbus and Sons by Genevieve Foster
* Mom read-aloud
* Oral narration

History Pockets: Explorers of North America
* Hands-on activities

Boys read on their own (see list below)
* Oral narration
* Copywork

Boys read on their own (see list below)
* Written narration

The Discovery of the Americas by Betsy and Giulio Maestro
* Ian reads aloud to Cole
* Timeline or Book of Centures (Ian)
* History DVD

Independent Reading Choices:

Around the World in a Hundred Years by Jean Fritz
Where Do You Think You're Going, Christopher Columbus? by Jean Fritz
I, Columbus by Peter and Connie Roop (ed.)
Who was Magellan? by Sydelle Kramer
Who was William Shakespeare? by Celeste Mannis
Fine Print by Joann Burch
Michelangelo by Diane Stanley
Leonardo da Vinci by Diane Stanley
Christopher Columbus by Minna Lacey
A Picture Book of Christopher Columbus by David Adler
Da Vinci by Mike Venezia

Monday, August 22, 2011

Our Cole is 8 Today!

Eight years ago we were blessed with the birth of our second son, Cole. Cole has been keeping us on our toes since he was born. On my last day of work before my maternity leave (6 days before my due date), I was experiencing contractions on and off all day. That evening we went to dinner with my parents, during which I continued to time my contrations. Casually I announced that we'd have to go to the hospital after dinner. We dropped Ian off at my aunt and uncle's house and then headed to the hospital where my parents (and aunt and cousin) later met us. I was only dilated a few centimeters and the nurse was going to send me home, but I asked if I could walk around instead. The next day was going to be my mother-in-law's birthday and I didn't want Cole to have to share his birthday. So after walking around for an hour, I was much further dilated and they admitted me. I also declined any medications or epidurals because I didn't want anything to slow my contractions. I even told the doctor he had to be born before midnight. Time was ticking away. I got stuck at 9 centimeters and they finally broke my water for me. After that things happened pretty quickly. Cole entered the world at 11:29pm.

Cole has been a joy to watch grow up. He has a strong personality and is a natural leader. He's funny, carefree, adventurous, agile, strong, sensitive, curious, smart, cute, and confident. He learns things quickly and is a natural athlete. He's also very comfortable with himself. He knows that he's small for his age, but it doesn't affect him. He's also been keeping his hair on the long-side for the last couple of years, and is frequently called a girl by those not paying attention, but he doesn't let it bother him. We call him a monkey because he can climb anything practically. He is also a great snuggler and loves to have fun. We have enjoyed these eight years of having him in our lives and look forward to watching him continue to grow and develop.

Here's a look at Cole through the years:

Baby Cole at the Hospital
(I don't think hospital photos are meant to be flattering.)
Cole at 3 months, with very red hair.
(Reminiscent of Conan O'Brien or Donald Trump? lol)
Cole at 1 year old - now a blondie.
Where did the red hair go?

Cole at 2 years old - doing his two favorite things:
Sucking on his fingers, and holding his blankie (which he called an Ah-ja).
Cole at 3 years old - already our little Monkey!
Cole at 4 years old - with his brothers.
Gotta love that cheesy smile :)
Cole at 5 years old - It's fun to play dress-up.
Cole at 6 years old - The beginning of the long hair stage.

Cole at 7 years old - loving having long hair
Cole is 8 years old today!
And he has yet another hair style - still keeping some length.
Happy Birthday, Cole!! We love you very much and are so very grateful to God to have you in our lives. You are truly a blessing. Thank you for the incredibly sweet, loving, fun, and kind boy that you are.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Homeschool Mother's Journal, Aug 19

In my life this week…

Not to be a downer, but I found out today that my grandmother's lung cancer has been staged. She's got Stage 4 Lung Cancer. It has metastasized to her adrenal glands, but not her brain or liver. So in the next week or two she'll probably be starting radiation therapy and chemo.

On a more positive note, my father-in-law's Prostate Cancer is Stage 1, so we were relieved to hear that. He has been tolerating his radiation therapy well, and the doctor is pleased with his progress so far.

In our homeschool this week…

Oh, we are busy, busy, planning for school that starts in two weeks. Since I've decided to revamp our homeschool to implement a more Charlotte Mason style, I've had to reconsider many things. So far I've got our math, science, and geography planned out. But I still have several subjects to put the finishing touches on.

My favorite thing this week was…

I've been hunting through used bookstores this summer looking for bargains and difficult-to-find books that will coincide with our Charlotte Mason living books style. This week I found some gems at our local library used bookstore:
    * The Tree-Dwellers by Katharine Dopp (pub. 1904)
    * The Later Cavemen by Dopp (pub. 1906)
    * The Early Sea People by Dopp (pub. 1912)
    * The Early Herdsmen by Dopp (pub. 1923)
    * The New World by Winston Churchill
       (Vol 2 of A History of the English Speaking Peoples)
    * The Age of Revolution by Churchill (Vol 3)

Things I’m working on…

I'm trying to complete our household organizing in the next two weeks before we start school. The boys are currently sorting Legos, which is probably an exercise in futility, but we are doing it anyway.

I’m reading…

At the beginning of the week, I was sucked into reading a few books, so the past couple of days I've been a good girl and haven't read anything except my Bible and some Mom's Notes. But I'm working at the hospital this weekend, so I will enjoy reading quietly during my lunch breaks :)

Books read this week: Wake by Lisa McMann
                                     Fade by Lisa McMann
                                     Gone by Lisa McMann
                                     The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

I’m praying for…

My grandmother and father-in-law

A photo to share…

The boys' State Books for their geography studies this year.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Our School Plan: Math

This was the easiest of my curriculum decisions for the year. This will actually be the first time we continue with the same math curriculum/vendor two years in a row. Hurray!

6th Grade
Continuing Math U See Epsilon, then will be start Zeta
Math facts practice using Mad Dog Math

3rd Grade
Starting Math U See Gamma
Math facts practice using Mad Dog Math

We'll be trying Math Lessons for a Living Education Level 1 (Queen Homeschool)
(still need to purchase it)

The boys will be doing their math Monday through Thursday. For Fridays, I plan to implement some living math, family math, and/or math games. As we stumble upon some games/activities of interest, I'll post about them.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Our School Plan: Geography

This year my older boys will be studying the United States for geography. Our history studies will finally be entering into US history, so this should coincide nicely. I'm not going to have them go too in-depth, but enough for an overview of each state. I'll have them study two states per week, in order of entry into the union. Their books will be set up in alphabetical order.

I added patriotic scrapbook paper to dress up our boring binders.

In order to save time (and mental energy), I found my state sheets from a unit study on CurrClick called: 50 Days of 50 States. This is a great unit study and it has multiple pages for all 50 states. I only used two pages per state, which I think will be enough to keep my boys busy.

The boys will be completing these sheets after reading some books together:
* Quilt of States by Adrienne Yorinks
* United Tweets of America by Hudson Talbot
* The Discover America State by State Series (by Sleeping Bear Press)

Additionally, they will be doing map drills, which will first involve reviewing the continents and oceans, and then learning where all our states are. Each week the boys will be learning about two states. Then, once a week, I'll have the boys fill in blank maps where they will gradually remember where all the states are. Our blank maps are from New World Blackline Maps (13 colonies map) and Modern Blackline Maps (current US map). This is the first time we'll be doing this, so I'm hoping for some success. Then, next year we can venture into more continents.

If all goes well with our first term scheduling, I may add in a geography read-aloud later. I'm trying not to overwhelm my schedule too much so we can have a good start to the year. I have a tendency to do too much, and then our schedule falls apart. If I can find a good copy, I'll add in A Child's Geography of the World by V.M. Hillyer. Otherwise, I might add in a Holling C. Holling book, like Paddle to the Sea.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Our School Plan: First Term, Science

So I've decided to try and go with a more Charlotte Mason approach this year for school. I'm still trying to get it all organized. Between looking for the right books, creating a schedule, organizing supplies and books, and just trying to stay on top of the other household duties, there's still a lot to do. But I needed to feel like I'm accomplishing something, so I've prepared Ian and Cole's Science plan for the first term.

They will be reading books (or chapters) on their own each week. During the week, they will do an oral narration, a copywork sheet, and a written narration including a drawing. I put together small folders for each of them with their copywork and written narration pages already prepared for the term. The goal with this planning is for them to be able to accomplish their learning in 20-30 minute short lessons (as Charlotte Mason suggested). The oral and written narration will hopefully reinforce what they're learning. At the end of the term, I'll have my eldest son write a report/essay summarizing what he learned from his book.

Here's the book lists we'll use for the first term. All the books may not be "living books," but I've reviewed them and most of them provide a narrative style that I think will help the boys. As you will see, Ian will be focusing on only a few topics this year while Cole will be touching on multiple topics.

6th Grade:
All About The Atom by Ira M. Freeman
(read approximately one chapter per week)

3rd Grade:
The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor by Joanna Cole
Dolphin Talk by Wendy Pfeffer
Whales by Deborah Hodge
Sharks by Anne Schreiber
Why Frogs Are Wet by Judy Hawes
Look Out for Turtles by Melvin Berger
Snakes Are Hunters by Patricia Lauber
Ducks Don't Get Wet by Augusta Goldin
Gulls, Gulls, Gulls by Gail Gibbons
How Do Birds Find Their Way? by Roma Gans
Zipping, Zapping, Zooming Bats by Ann Earle
Who Eats What? by Patricia Lauber
The Magic School Bus Hops Home by Joanna Cole
(read approximately one book a week)

We will also be studying chemistry as a group, including labs. We will be using Real Science 4 Kids Chemistry. At this point I plan on doing it once a week, every other week. Once I'm comfortable with our new schedule, I'll be able to adjust the frequency of our chemistry time to perhaps every week. But at this point I'm trying not to overwhelm myself (oh wait...too late, lol).

Friday, August 12, 2011

Bode's Bee Lesson

As we're walking to the car from the library next to some flowers, Bode (my 4-1/2 year old) is walking behind the big boys and me. "Mom, I caught a bee," Bode said excitedly. I didn't realize he was serious until a few seconds later..."Oww!!!" cried Bode, with a stinger sticking out of his finger. Poor guy.

Bode's new lesson learned: Don't catch bees. They don't want to be caught!

Update: Bode has informed me that the first bee he caught didn't sting him. It was the second one that did it. LOL

Monday, August 1, 2011

Tween Book Club: My Side of the Mountain

Ian had a Tween Book Club meeting a couple of weeks ago. The kids each read My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George.

Amazon Review:
Every kid thinks about running away at one point or another; few get farther than the end of the block. Young Sam Gribley gets to the end of the block and keeps going--all the way to the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York. There he sets up house in a huge hollowed-out tree, with a falcon and a weasel for companions and his wits as his tool for survival. In a spellbinding, touching, funny account, Sam learns to live off the land, and grows up a little in the process. Blizzards, hunters, loneliness, and fear all battle to drive Sam back to city life. But his desire for freedom, independence, and adventure is stronger. No reader will be immune to the compulsion to go right out and start whittling fishhooks and befriending raccoons.

I wish I had a picture to share, but I forgot to bring my camera. It was a wonderful sight to see the kids in their book club, having a great time. There were about 10 or so kids there (ages 10 to 12, boys and girls). They had their meeting outside encircling a firepit, making them feel more a part of the book. One of the moms introduced a question to discuss and then the kids took turns discussing it. Sample questions: What three things would you bring with you if you ran away to the woods? How did you feel about the ending of the book? After all the discussion questions and everyone having their chance to participate, they roasted marshmallows - a great way to end the night.

My son enjoyed the book. He was actually much more engaged in this book than he was with Sign of the Beaver. He didn't love the ending, but that led to some great discussion about it. I'd definitely recommend this book for a book club choice (or just to read alone).