We continue to rock along in our school year! Aaron just completed his first reader for 2nd grade reading!! He will go ahead and complete the second one (which at the rate he is going he will finish it by the first of May!) After that he will start his Summer reading (more on that in a minute).
Ok - so I am once again trying to get in some history into our school days. My original plans for this for the year kind of fell through and just didn't click I guess because it was very easy to neglect and not do... to the point that we weren't doing anything. But I went looking through the resources I had and have come up with Early American History projects and so far we are having a blast with them!!
We started with talking about Christopher Columbus. I used my resources that I still have from Adventures in My Father's World. We watched the Animated Hero Classic video about Christopher Columbus and made some drawings (from Draw Write Now) of Christopher Columbus and of his three ships). Right now we are doing projects about the Mayflower and the Pilgrims. I am using a scholastic make and learn project ebook that I had purchased some time back for these. That book has good synopsis material to use as teaching material and I am supplementing it with the My Father's World resources. After this we will spend some time talking about the Indians (I have a couple of Scholastic project ebooks for that) and then we will move into colonial life. I would to like to continue to find resources like this as we move, at a slow, leisurely pace, through American History. The kids LOVE the hands on aspect of the project and I really think it will help them to retain the information.
I have even cleared off a shelf for us to put our projects. Here are some pictures of how I have decorated our shelf and some of our first projects.
Here is the shelf decorated and ready for projects
A "Old World vs New World" diorama that we made
Here is the "old world" side - showing Holland, where the pilgrims tried to live
and here is the "new world" side showing America after they landed on the Mayflower. We had fun comparing and contrasting the two.
Here is our 3D model of the Mayflower (standing in blue ocean waves)
You can open the front flap to "peek" inside the ship - we had good discussions on what life must have been like on the ship.
The kids are enjoying this so much that they asked if we could do same thing for science! So we are taking a break from Apologia science and going to start talking about animal habitats and doing projects for that. Let me say that we LOVE Apologia and will continue to use that book...but it is a lot of reading...and I think, especially right now since they are still young, it's ok to take a break from that and do some "fun" science!! I am also using Scholastic ebook project books that I have already purchased. They also have some fun experiments and stuff to explore further with! Today we started with caves (didn't get pics - I will have pics for my next post). We made a cool "peek through" book on 'What lives in caves?' I even found some pictures of stalactites and stalagmites online that I showed the kids as we talked about what a cave is and what it consists of. Hopefully tomorrow we will be able to start our experiment of making stalactites. When we come back from spring break (which is next week) we will make a cave diorama!
I have cleared the top of the other bookshelf for our animal habitat projects. Once again, I will have pictures of that in my next post!
So, at the beginning of the post I mentioned "Summer reading". For the first time at Watson Christian Academy we will have summer school. :-) And before you start telling me how mean and cruel I am, hear me out!
Summer school will not be like our normal school year...it will be more relaxed and more "fun" than "normal" school! We will be on a very relaxed schedule because we are wanting to get in a bunch of camping, and we have a big trip in June planned, and we will have park days and stuff with our friends...so we will NOT have any type of a rigid schedule. BUT on the days when we are home we might as well be productive right?!?! (and kids behave SO MUCH better when we are on our routine).
So here is what I am planning for our "summer school":
Literature Studies - Seth is going to be reading 'Squanto, Friend of Pilgrims' (we read it aloud together last year but he is going to read it on his own now and is super excited about this), an abridged verison of 'Tom Sawyer' and an abridged version of 'Huckleberry Finn'. I am actually writing the literacy units to go with the books, which will consist of vocabulary and comprehension questions by chapter. But this way he is keeping up his reading skills as he continues to focus on comprehension, as well as learning new vocabulary (and practicing using a dictionary to find meanings of words) etc...
Aaron will be reading Imagination Station's 'Voyage of the Vikings' as well as the first books in the Magic Tree House series (he is SUPER excited to start these). He will also have literacy units like those described above that he will complete as he reads his books.
We will continue our history projects and our animal habitat projects.
We will also throw in some math games so that we keep fresh on our math skills!
At this point that is all I have planned. See? Sounds like fun, right?!?! :-)
And of course I will also be planning out our "new" school year during the Summer as well. Those who know me know that for the past 2 summers now I have used that time to plan out our school year! Now every year I have had to tweak and change as I go...but it seems to be much easier to do that when the majority of your year is planned in advance :-) It has worked well for me and I plan to continue in the same fashion!
And it is getting about time to have Alyssa "dive" into school since she will be turning 5 in April - YIKES!!!
So as you can see things are staying busy around here!
Well we are rocking right along in this new year! Things have been SUPER busy lately! Seth is doing a public speaking workshop for 4H. He also starts guitar lessons through the Salvation Army next week. He is super excited about that!
The kids are still working on learning the recorder and doing well (our biggest issue is ME working in practice time but thankfully they are smart fast learners).
We went on a field trip to the Perot Museum last week and had a blast!! Here are a few picture highlights from that trip.
(cool thing about this one - we talked about the wooly mammoth in science this week - I pulled up this picture to help the kids to remember the skeleton we saw last week)
Then this week we went to the Children's Aquarium at Fair Park (see I told you - we have been crazy busy!!) Here are some highlights from that trip :-)
The boys enjoyed two different scavenger hunts that they had set up for them to do!
the two pics above are of blue-eyed MJ, the Loggerhead Sea Turtle, and we just fell in love with her! She has BLUE eyes (very rare for turtles)
This penguin pair were roaming the place while we were there! We got to pet them too!
So the kids are getting super excited about our new semester of co-op that starts next Friday! I am looking forward to a change of pace with the classes I teach - I am doing a couple more classes for Alyssa's age group :-) (and of course still doing a science class for the boys age range - we are doing Magic School Bus Science this semester!)
But with the younger classes come more "art" stuff....my classroom has been looking like an art room lately. In one of the classes the kids will be learning alphabet, numbers and shapes etc with animals! On the first class we are going to read Eric Carle's 'Animals Animals' (thank you Karen Hare for the book if you are reading this!!!). We are going to use Eric Carle's art technique to make a cover for a book that we will be making with all of our activities for the semester. To do this I needed to texture paint some tissue paper!
Here is my tissue paper hanging to dry.
And see that AWESOME WONDERFUL wooden gadget with the two hooks!! Seth made this for me one night when he was playing with Daddy in the shop! It was his own invention and he was so excited to give to me. I am so happy that I found the perfect use for it - it helped me to make a double rowed drying rack for these tissue papers!! :-)
Here is another shot of the tissues hanging to dry! We also decided to do these for our homemade valentines that we are making for friends for Valentines this year (there are a group of 57 kids that are exchanging valentines - kids are having a blast making them!)
And here is my finished example of the Eric Carle art!! I am so excited to see how all the kids' turn out!
I am also doing an Exploring Literature class for those young ones as well. The first class we will be reading 'Joey Ran Away' and here is our kangaroo craft we are going to do! :-)
I have to share this next picture :-) Seth's Draw To Learn Proverbs lesson was from Proverbs 8:12-16 and it stated for him to draw a picture of his country's leader and pray for wisdom for him. Well, he chose to draw this country's first leader - George Washington! I loved it!!
And Seth is learning his times tables - oh boy!!! He is not happy at all about memorizing them! I finally found a cool app that we tried out today and he is loving it! After about 20 minutes on his app he about has his 2 and 3 facts down!! :-)
Well as I type this it is snowing outside! Probably won't be enough to amount to anything but it is sure pretty coming down! We are trying to stay warm!! I am so thankful that my hubby found an AWESOME deal on a 150 gallon propane tank and installed a gas heater (with a thermostat) in our school room!! No more having to run out here at 6:30 in the morning to turn on some heat in this FREEZING room!! It now stays at a good constant temp and we stay nice and toasty!! I have to say - it has been one COLD winter!!! Hopefully that means it will be a BEAUTIFUL spring! :-)
Well we started back to school this week after a two week Christmas break! Christmas was a bit different this year. Daddy got very sick with an infection in his chin and then I came down with strep throat and an ear infection on Christmas night :-( This kept us from going to our Lucas Christmas celebration. But my parents came up the next weekend and we had a very nice time with them and the kids and I will be going down soon to my parents to complete Christmas with my sister and her family and my grandmother. This has probably been the longest, most drawn out Christmas ever, but oh well! We make the best of it!
But the kids have made a very easy transition back into doing their studies. I think some of it may be due to the fact that I have decided to have soft instrumental music playing while we are doing school. I know it has helped me for sure and kids (especially Aaron) have commented several times about how much they like it! (and in case anyone is interested I use Pandora and have been playing the 'Classical Musical Melody Radio').
If kids are having trouble focusing, or are agitated, or just hyper I am planning on putting them on headphones with pure classical music ('Classical Radio' on Pandora). Aaron was having one of those mornings the other morning so we tried it out on him. This boy LOVES classical music.
Of course, being a homeschool family, some (or a lot) of the Christmas gifts have an 'educational' quality about them and the kids have been loving playing with their new Christmas gifts!
Our family gift was a computerized telescope!! This thing is AWESOME!! It's our own little robot. You type in where you want to go and it moves around until it gets you there! We found more in the first 20 minute session we had out with it than we have found to date! We are looking forward to many stargazing opportunities with this gem!
Seth got a Snap Circuits kit and has been playing with it A BUNCH! He is doing really well following the directions to make so many things such as working sirens and even an AM radio (that surprisingly picks up a BUNCH of stations!) I am looking forward to even bringing this kit to co-op to share with the kids there (Seth has given me permission to do so.)
Aaron got a Smithsonian dinosaur dig kit and he is enjoying being a paleontologist. It is a slow process but he has finally revealed the spine of the dinosaur and excited about excavating the entire thing (oh and he wants the classical music volume turned up while he works on it LOL!)
So Alyssa is showing more and more that she is ready for some "real" school...so I am presently easing her into it by finding a lot of hands-on activities for her (I am already finding that she works best with hands on).
I printed off a bunch of pattern block templates and she is enjoying them.
I printed off the alphabet and had her dot paint it using a q-tip and washable finger paint.
A friend gave me a set of wooden colored shape beads and I have printed off sequencing cards and easy addition cards and she has really enjoyed these! She asked to do this a second day this week!
Here is one of the addition cards. I set out the magnetic numbers and had her put the answer for the total number of beads on the card when she was done.
For a while now I have been making up "letter stories" to help the boys remember phonics rules... today I made up one for Aaron as he was learning the "oi" sound. I was inspired to go ahead and actually put the story on paper with graphics and am planning on going ahead and putting them all on paper and making a Letter Stories book for the kids. Seth even informed me today that he would like the book too - that it would help him "review". :-) I am excited about finally getting this done!!
Here is a screen shot of the one I did today.
The boys reading is going GREAT!! Aaron completed 1st Grade Pathways (that he started Jan 2013) before Christmas so we started 2nd Grade Pathways this week.
Seth will finish his 3rd Grade Pathways the end of January. Instead of trying to move on to 4th grade Pathways I have decided to do a literature study! He is going to read Farmer Boy!! I about fell over when I got the study guide and workbook in and found out that it so closely follows the method of the Pathway readers we have been using!! I like that it will be a challenge for him and will really enrich his vocabulary!!
And I already got the lessons planned out and it will take us right to the end of our "school year"! (Even though I am looking at schooling at least 1/2 of the summer...but that is another discussion for another day)!!!
I think we were meant to do this study because everything about it is fitting right into place!!! This EXCITES me!!! :-)
So this afternoon I kicked the kids out of the schoolhouse and locked the door! They are not allowed back in until December 2nd!! When they come in on December 2nd they will see that it has been transformed into Christmas School!!!! :-) I had so much fun decorating and getting it all ready!!
It has taken a couple of weeks to get everything planned out and I am so excited!
First off - I purchased Truth in the Tinsel and am so excited!! I have adapted it to work for our schools days (we have 12 school days before Christmas break) and have figured out some other activities to do as well.
I purchased an advent calendar - actually this is the one that the kids picked out.
To make it go with Truth in the Tinsel I used label sheets cut up to stick over what they have so that we could put our verses and pictures... as seen on one of the windows below.
We are going to do the ornament templates (and we will be making a few of the ornament crafts as well). So I printed out templates for each kid, colored copies of the picture clues and notes to go with the scripture readings and put them in an envelope for each day. Here they are all ready in a Christmas basket, along with our bible.
You will see in the next few pictures the tinsel that is hanging around the room. I thought I would take Truth in the TINSEL literally and we will be hanging our ornaments we make on tinsel. I went to the dollar store and got 3 different colors of tinsel (so each child will know which one is their's) and hung them up on one side of the room. Each day when they color and cut out their ornament we will attach it to their tinsel. (So by Christmas their tinsel will tell the Christmas story)
This is a view from the door of the whole room but you can see some of the tinsel on the right upper side of the picture.
It's hard to get everything photographed - I didn't get a good picture of showing all the tinsel stretching from one side of the room to the other.
So - here are some other school stuff that I we are doing special for Christmas!!!
I am so excited about our read aloud for December - we are reading a book I remember as a child - "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever". We will be finishing up Charlotte's Web the first week of December (and we have so so enjoyed it) and then we will read this one!
I made several Christmas packets for the kids to work on for Christmas. The first one are their verse tracings! For Thanksgiving I did thanksgiving verses where I wrote the verse with a highlighter and then they traced them - Seth doing cursive and Aaron and Alyssa doing print! This worked really well! (especially for Alyssa - I was so proud with how well she traced her letters. For Aaron and Seth I thought it would be a good change of pace for practicing their handwriting and cursive). Since it went so well for Thanksgiving I decided to do the same thing for Christmas! Their verses each day are from our scripture readings from Truth in the Tinsel for that day.
Here is the cover I made for each one of them.
Here is an example of Seth's cursive tracings.
Here is an example of Aaron's print tracings.
And here is an example of Alyssa's tracings. You will notice her letters are bigger and it is not the full verse...just enough for her to practice tracing her letters. :-)
I have really been working on trying to get Seth to write more. We have been working on fun short creative writings. I thought it would be fun to do some Christmas stories and found a great resource on teacherspayteachers.com. I decided to make Aaron a copy too and see what he can come up with!!
Here is the cover...
And here is one of the pages...
I also made special math packets for December! I decided to find some Christmas themed worksheets that would be review for what Aaron is learning. For Seth, we will be introducing multiplication and working on 2 and 3 times table with fun Christmas worksheets!!
Both of their covers look like this...
Here are some pages from Seth's book...
And here is a page from Aaron's book.
And I also made packets for the boys that were just fun activity pages - mazes, dot to dot, word searches, coloring sheets, etc...
I even made Alyssa a book of fun worksheets for her to work on! Letter tracings, dot to dot, what is different/what is the same worksheets, color by number, etc...
We will still be doing our normal reading lessons! I want to stay on track with them, especially since Aaron is scheduled to finish his 1st grade reading on December 16th!!! (remember he started in January last year with 1st grade reading). He is so excited!!! He was jumping up and down at the library the other day because I was getting him 2nd grade level books and some of them were chapter books!
Here are some more pictures of other decorations I have done around the room!
Here is the white board above my desk!
Here is a view of the big white board. You can't tell in the picture well but those are jingle bells strung across the top. There are ornaments down each side as well.
Here is a close up of my Santa - he is hanging in the middle of the white board! I thought he was quite appropriate for the school room. :-)
Also I put up around the room the handprint Christmas trees that the kids all made at church last year as my Christmas gift :-). Here is Aaron's...
Here is our angel sitting in the window (which is covered right now so that there are no peelers!)
Here is our truth in the tinsel basket with a couple of goodies in front of it...
A basket of fun Christmas erasers...
and a mug of fun Christmas pencils, sharpened and ready to use!
Here is a cute sign on the door!
And this is not Christmas - it is just our good 'ol Scentsy warmer - but it will be filled with Christmas scents making the room smell like Christmas!!!