Wednesday, July 21, 2010

School Supply Shopping

Well, yesterday was the big day: school supply shopping! I've looked forward to this day since Sarah was born. When I was a little girl I always, always got a giddy thrill from walking down the aisles with their rainbow-colored folders, waxy crayons, shiny scissors and crisp, fresh paper. I could easily take all day deciding which pencil box to choose. Glue or glue stick?

For me, though, the "holy grail" of school supplies was that enormous, colorful box of 125 crayons. Oh, the possibilities! The thought of that box bordered that kind of envy the Bible warns about. That box of crayons was my Christmas Story pellet gun, minus the poking-out of eyes. With that array of colors I could draw five rainbows and never use the same colors twice, color a sky full of blues and a zoo full of animals. With hands full of reds, yellows, oranges and every variation thereof I tried to imagine what kind of rapture the Lord must feel with each sunset He paints.

Now we have our curriculum and our supplies. Everything is stacked neatly in boxes, waiting for our move. The only thing we need now is a new house. I can see my lessons have already begun. First up, patience! Following right behind, faith.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dictionary is Growing!

Sarah's child-led dictionary is growing! I think I'm going to change how we're doing it though. After a conversation about a word we had last night, I think I'd like to include those cute little glimpses into how her mind works.

Sarah: Mommy, what does "complicated" mean?
Me: Well, it means. . . difficult.
Sarah: And difficult means hard right?
Me: Yes.
Sarah: But not the kind of hard like the floor is hard when you
touch it. It's the kind of hard that makes you frustrated about

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tracing Words

Sarah is currently reading Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. I found this great site that lets you type in any words you'd like and they create word-tracing worksheets for you. Below are three words from Green Eggs and Ham that Sarah traced.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Homeschooling: Disney-Style!

Last night, John and I decided we'd love to take another trip to Disney World. We took Sarah and Caleb (then newly 2 and newly 4 years old) in April of 2009. We had an amazing time, despite the fact that I was 27 weeks pregnant and achy all over.

Sarah is such a brave, adventurous little girl and she rode everything her height would allow. That includes: Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, Dinosaur, and the rapids ride at Animal Kingdom. Height and speed are nothing to her. Adventure is her middle name. Caleb did well, despite his sensitive nature. As long as he was with his big strong Daddy, he was happy. Surprisingly, he was able to enjoy such rides as Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, and rides that went high into the air (the Dumbo ride and Aladdin's Magic Carpet Ride).

Our trip is planned for September, probably the second week. It will involve both John and I saving money from our respective budgets each pay period so I think that will be fun! Working and sacrificing towards a common goal is always good for a marriage/family, don't you think?

Since there are roughly seven months until our Disney adventure I thought it would be fun to loosely center our homeschooling around a Disney theme. As we study each letter we'll tie it into a Disney theme or character ("M" for Mickey Mouse, "P" for Pirates of the Caribbean, "C" for Cinderella and castle, etc). This will help the time pass more quickly for the kids and enrich their Disney experience. Some more of my ideas:

Learn about the marine animals at the Living Seas exhibit
Do a specific study on clown fish (using Finding Nemo, coloring pages, etc)
Five senses (talk about how Disney World tastes, sounds, looks like, feels like and sounds heard)

Language Arts
Letter of the week (Put mouse ears on letter M, etc)
Read Disney books

Counting the days, weeks, months until the trip (on a homemade calendar)
When packing, count the number of shirts, shorts, socks, etc

Arts and Crafts
Disney character coloring pages
Letter of the week (Put mouse ears on letter M, etc)
Draw favorite Disney characters

Social Studies
Stranger safety
Table manners
Map reading (maps of the parks we’re visiting, marking their favorite attractions)
Get a map of Georgia and Florida and map our drive to Disney World, hang on wall

Learn traditional American Folk songs (fun to sing at the Liberty Bell at Magic Kingdom)
Learn Disney songs to sing at different attractions

Child-led Dictionary

I think it's time Sarah and I begin compiling her very own dictionary. The last few days have brought a seemingly never-ending stream of definition questions from Sarah!

"Mommy, what does presentation mean?"
"What is anticipating?"
"Daddy, if I say you're 'lagging behind', what does that mean?"

A dictionary put together with her own two little hands would be very intellectually satisfying to her. A project that involves coloring, cutting, gluing and words. What could be more fun?

My plan is to put the dictionary into a binder. I'll let Sarah write "Sarah's Dictionary" on a piece of paper and draw a picture on it. That will go in the front sleeve of the binder as the "cover". Then I'll fill the binder with plain white paper. Each time Sarah asks me the meaning of a word we'll look it up together in a "real" dictionary and I'll read her the meaning (interpreting as necessary). Then I'll let her think of a sentence in which to use the word. She'll write the word at the top of a piece of paper and I'll write the sentence Sarah said. Then she can draw a picture that helps her remember the word and it's meaning. Of course, we'll put all the words in alphabetical order!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sarah's Creativity

Last week while John was TDY I got Sarah's "dot paints" out and let her have fun with them at the table. Here are the materials I gave her:

plain white paper
coloring book
small white paper plates

Here is what she'd made by the time I checked back on her:

She made a pretty design on the paper plate. Then, she got a pair of her Barbie's pinky-purple tights. She chewed a hole in the paper plate and strung the tights through the hole. Last, she tied the tights in a knot (something she's very good at, by the way) and she had a beautiful, creative refrigerator decoration.

It's amazing what children can do when given a few simple materials and then left alone with their imaginations!!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Someday a Tree

Someday a Tree by Eve Bunting

This is a book we have enjoyed immensely. It it such a sweet story and the artwork is absolutely beautiful. Sarah (5) and Caleb (3) like looking at the pictures almost more than they like the story.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Morning Schedule

Of course, all of these times are merely my goals. As the children grow I imagine I'll move towards a "block" schedule. I've also written in times for Anna to nurse, but she's really still nursing on demand so those times usually change. My goal for her is to get her nursing every two hours so I can know (generally) when she's going to want to nurse.

(click image to enlarge)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

First Reading Lessons

Before we begin more "formal" home-schooling, I thought we'd try Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. I've heard from many mothers who highly recommend it and I'm eager to see how much Sarah has with it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Our Homeschool Curriculum

This is the curriculum I am probably going to use with Sarah. I chose My Father's World over ABEKA because I think it will be useful for both Sarah and Caleb. I don't think Caleb would do as well with ABEKA and I know Sarah will do well with nearly any curriculum. I can always supplement MFW for Sarah if need be.

Monday, January 18, 2010

I Took His Hand and Followed

I Took His Hand and Followed
Mrs. Roy L. Peifer

My dishes went unwashed today,

I didn't make the bed,

I took his hand and followed

Where his eager footsteps led.

Oh yes, we went adventuring,

My little son and I...

Exploring all the great outdoors

Beneath the summer sky

We waded in a crystal stream,

We wandered through a wood...

My kitchen wasn't swept today

But life was gay and good.

We found a cool, sun-dappled glade

And now my small son knows

How Mother Bunny hides her nest,

Where jack-in-the-pulpit grows.

We watched a robin feed her young,

We climbed a sunlit hill...

Saw cloud-sheep scamper through the sky,

We plucked a daffodil.

That my house was neglected,

That I didn't brush the stairs,

In twenty years, no one on earth

Will know, or even care.

But that I've helped my little boy

To noble manhood grow,

In twenty years, the whole wide world

May look and see and know.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

With liberty and pre-k for all?

The Home School Legal Defense Association has recently published an article that analyzed the risks and benefits of government-mandated and controlled Pre-K. In the article, Smother Mother Strikes Again: Why Government Should Stay Out of Pre-K, the author writes

Early education constitutes yet another intrusion of big government, this time imposing itself directly into the home. Institutionalized, government-approved pre-K programs threaten parents’ right to direct the upbringing and education of their children by forcing subjective screenings and state-approved, politicized curriculum upon America’s impressionable youth. Some pre-K bills, including H.R. 2343, include provisions for socio-emotional/mental health screenings, which, unlike vision or hearing tests, are based on inherently subjective diagnostic criteria. After children are identified as needing mental health services or medication, it is not clear if their parents will have the ability to refuse such treatment. Similarly, once trusting parents enroll their children in institutionalized early education, there is no guarantee that they will have any warning or authority over what their child is exposed to in the classroom.

The article goes on to point out that while such Pre-K programs are completely optional, parents may not know the programs are optional or may feel pressured into enrolling their children in them. This is a valid concern, but my concern is much greater: that these programs will become mandatory.

As we seem so apt to do, we quickly forget how things were just thirty or forty years ago. In my grandmother's school-days, as well as my mother's, kindergarten was not mandatory. For my grandmother, it wasn't even an option yet. When she entered school she was nearly seven years old and entered directly into a first-grade class. When my mother entered school, it was through a then-voluntary kindergarten class. Yes, voluntary kindergarten.

These days kindergarten in the United States has become mandatory, as it is a normal, regular part of an elementary school. As with most educational "experiments" the U.S. government implements, voluntary kindergarten became mandatory kindergarten. When this country was founded, public education was not mandatory. When public schools were first formed, they were completely optional. Then they became mandatory. Then there was voluntary kindergarten. Now it's mandatory. So you can see why I am concerned that what we now call "VPK" (voluntary pre-K) will quickly become a compulsory part of our children's education.

I already hear some of you saying, "well, you homeschool your children so why are you even worried about pre-K?" My concern lies in all of the comments we get about our children, our oldest in particular. "She's sharp as a tack! Are you going to put her in pre-K?" The assumption seems to be that without pre-K, my daughter's intelligence will somehow vanish. Then I get comments like, "I know you're going to homeschool her, but why not put her in pre-K so she can learn to read?" This is how the government will lure parents into the pre-K trap. "Try it, you'll like it". Then before we know it, it will have become an accepted part of compulsory public education.