Friday, September 25, 2009
Thursday Evening -
Grandma and Grandpa come up for a weekend visit.
Social Butterfly has a piano recital.
Friday Afternoon / Evening-
Homecoming Parade for Night Owl's highschool and
Homecoming Game for Night Owl
Saturday Morning -
Football game for Builder
Football game for Jetter
Saturday Evening -
Homecoming Dance for Night Owl
Builder's Birthday party with his friends.
Grandma and Grandpa picked a busy week to come. I'm hoping to have all my ducks in a row so we can just relax and enjoy the activities!
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
First, there was the work on the front porch. This doesn't seem like that much of a distraction but let me tell you - demolition, noisy power tools and workmen here most of the day do not mix with school when it comes to little boys! We called most of that day an "in house" field trip and talked about safety for the workmen, their tools and how they used them, simple machines, what it means to do a good job and not just do something half way to get it done, etc. So, it was educational, but I didn't get to check off any of those little boxes on my lesson plan sheet.
Then there was Catholic Mosaic. We had a great time, but it was difficult to have a regular school day with the preparations I needed to make. (And I thought I was organized!) We learned about St. Peter Claver, did a craft and played with friends. The kids had a great time and I would say, once again, the whole thing was very educational but ... I still didn't get to check off many of those boxes!
Friday was the first day back to piano lessons. Once we settle in, this will be a time to get some work done (and check off some boxes!). However, yesterday, being the first day, I wasn't prepared for Beany's reaction to this whole idea of waiting in the car while everyone quietly worked on Math and one child at a time went in for piano lessons. He and Builder were not as patient with this whole thing as I had hoped, so the child who was not taking the piano lesson was quite distracted by these little ones and didn't get their work done. Once again, boxes left unchecked.
BUT, this week will be different! Sure there are the usual football practices and piano lessons, but those are accounted for in our schedule. But there is nothing else on our schedule that should put a kink in our routine. Now I'm praying desperately that no one gets sick!
Friday, September 11, 2009
I thought the time I allotted for everything was sufficient. I assumed the kids would all embrace the "getting back to school" and I was looking forward to this first week.
Wellllll, I forgot to account for the extra time it would take to get everybody ready and get to football practices on time. I forgot to account for the extra driving time necessary to take Night Owl to the various functions he needed to be at like JV games and team dinners. I forgot the fact that the contractor was going to start work on our front porch this week, and waiting for him to come, as well as the distraction of the demolition that was going to mess up our schedule. I forgot that Jetter's personality causes him to resist anything with structure, like a schedule, even though he needs it more than anyone. I forgot that Social Butterfly would be watching the clock, reminding me when we were a few minutes late to move on to the next thing and driving me absolutely crazy. I forgot that Beany, now a two year old, would be resistant about taking his naps when I wanted him to, and that the toys I so neatly layed out for him to play with would probably not interest him as much as big sisters markers. And, I forgot that every year it begins this way!
So, I'm tweaking the schedule a bit, adding more time for driving here and there, taking advantage of the "fog delay" this morning to get a head start on next week's plans, and thinking of a better plan for Beany.
Despite all the above, we did manage to get started with the year though. We didn't get to every subject every day, but we did work on our routines and cracked the binding on most of our new books. So, it's a start. As usual, I'm praying for grace this year. I love homeschooling my children, but I know I can only do it with God's help.
Friday, September 4, 2009
We call the start to our day our Morning Meeting. Unlike the rest of our school day, the Morning Meeting takes place upstairs, in the sunroom and the dining room. Often, while the kids are eating breakfast and getting their morning chores done, I'm gathering necessary items for this morning meeting. As always, the more organized I can be, the better it goes.
We start off with just a mention of the day's feast day, if there is one. Then we say our morning prayers together, which will often include a prayer to the saint who's feast we are celebrating. Then we look to our calendars. For this year, I will have two calendars posted. This one,
which I have used for several years now, and our new Liturgical Year Calendar. I decided not to get a Liturgical Year Calendar last year and I really regretted it. So here it is, waiting for the first day of the new Church Year. It is simply attached to the wall with "sticky tac" for the picture. I'm working on a more attractive way to display it, especially since it's in our dining room. I'll post an updated picture when I get this all figured out.
For our regular monthly calendar, we just review the month, day and year and add the new number for the date. This is mostly for Builder who is in Kindergarten this year. The other kids don't mind since it only takes a minute. We sometimes sing songs to help with remembering the days of the week and months of the year. This site has some really neat ideas for using the calendar to help with math concepts. I am going to use the "School Day Count" idea at that site to help Builder grasp the concept of place value. Other than that, most of our "calendar time" as it is sometimes called, is based on the Liturgical Year Calendar.
When we look at the Liturgical Year Calendar, we will talk about the day, the liturgical season, the colors of the vestments worn, the feast days etc. This mom, who has a beautiful blog, uses tiny images of the saints and attaches them to her Liturgical Calendar. There are so many neat ideas out there. I wish I had the time to use them all! Along with our calendar, we will also make sure our home altar is decorated for the feast day, or at least the Church Season. Here it is, ready for tomorrow, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the past, we have always read a story or some information that goes along with the saint's feast day. This year, I'm going to do things a little differently, in the hopes of things running a bit more smoothly.
Instead of celebrating the feast days as they come, we will celebrate a feast day for the week on Mondays. We will decorate our home altar, and I will read a story about the saint whose feast day we are celebrating and the kids will usually color a picture or do a simple craft. I have several resources for these pictures, but one of my favorite is this blog, where the author provides coloring pictures for each saint that is studied in her homeschool (scroll down at that site to see the list of coloring pictures available). Since we use the suggestions from Catholic Mosaic, I also have the corresponding coloring book, Fenestrae Fidei, which we will use this year. Doing it this way, we will sometimes have to choose which saint to study, as there will be several feast days in one week. I think that it will still work better though, as we will have more time to concentrate on the one we are studying.
So, why only Mondays for feast days? Because that leaves time for the other important things I wanted to get to this year. Besides the Catechism and Scripture the children will be studying, I also like to include a very practical, "Living Faith" study. There are three areas in this Living Faith category that I want to focus on this year. First, there are the Liturgical Year Celebrations, which I spoke of above. But there are two other areas that I really wanted to focus on and, while they are touched on in the children's Catechism lessons, I wanted to give them more emphasis. These areas are virtues and the Mass.
We will study the virtues on Tuesdays. I am planning to use Amy Wellborn's Book of Heroes as a spine for this study. I like the way she breaks the chapters in her book down by the spiritual and moral virtues. For each, she explains the virtue, tying it into the life of Jesus. Then, she includes several stories of saints that used that virtue. I'm hoping to use other resources we have, like William Bennett's The Book of Virtues, to round out our study. The kids will d0 a notebook page for each virtue, then add a bit of copywork, a colored picture, or sometimes just a holy card of some of the saints that lived that particular virtue.
For our study of the Mass, which will happen on Wednesdays, I will be using a very simple little book, The Mass Book for Children as a spine. It is much too simple for Social Butterfly, but I plan to use it more of a launching off point and plan to round it out with other materials. I love Erin's Unit Study on the Mass and wish I would have found it sooner. I'm not sure I can get something so elaborate together by ... tomorrow! ... but I'm going to read through it carefully and glean some ideas. I especially like that she uses Maria Montessori's book, The Mass. It is one that I will certainly incorporate into this study. Like the days when we study a Liturgical Feast or a virtue, the kids will make some sort of notebook entry after we do our study on the Mass. I'm learning to keep these simple so we actually do them, and they don't take all day! Wednesday is also the day I am hoping to get to the Mass at noon with the kids, so this should all work together quite nicely.
I don't have a Living Faith plan for Thursdays. I am thinking it will be good to have a catch up day for when life hits us differently than we had planned and the schedule is forgotten. We seem to have one of those days frequently! This could also be the day that we do an art project, but that's another post.
We'll finish this time of day with individual Religion lessons because I think they will naturally flow together. Social Butterfly will be focusing on the Catechism this year, and well as some Bible History. Jetter, will be doing the same, but at a different level. Builder will be mostly learning the Bible stories. Beany will just be making messes of course! I'm looking forward to this special time of day starting up again. Our Morning Meeting and Afternoon Tea Time are the times we all miss most when summer vacation is here.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
This year, I've decided to start off with the workboxes in place, but I've made a few changes. Because our schoolroom tends to be a bit cluttered with all our materials (I'm a curriculum junkie!) the workboxes that Sue Patrick recommends just seemed too big and added to the clutter. I also decided that Social Butterfly really doesn't need the workboxes. She loves to arrange and organize her desk, and the workboxes aren't necessary for her. BUT, she still wanted some "fun way" to organize her assignment list.
This is what I've come up with for our workbox system. The boys will each be using this storage system I purchased from JoAnn's at a great half price sale:
Not too exciting to look at, I know, but it's going to work great. There are 10 drawers which is just enough for Jetter and more than enough for Builder. Like last year (see pictures here) I'll attach velcro dots to the outside of each box. There will be a number attached to each dot. When the child has completed the work in the box, he will replace the number with a smiley face, or other sort of "I'm finished" type label. On the top of each of these units I will have a box or basket (really?!) in which I will keep those items that the child will do directly with me. Everything in the drawers will be independent work. (But of course my children can and do ask for help whenever they need it.) When the classroom is in order (hopefully with new desks for the boys) I'll take a picture of the whole system in place.
Now, Social Butterfly's system is quite different and very girly. That doesn't surprise anyone who knows my feminine, creative daughter. It's one of the many parts of her personality that I enjoy completely. Here's a picture of her system:As I said, Social Butterfly likes to organize (and reorganize!) the school books and notebooks in the drawers of her desk. A system like the boys have didn't really interest her, and really, she doesn't need it. The system above is much more to her liking. I used a piece of clear plexi-glass that we had from another project. I attached 12 library envelopes to the outside and wrote a subject on each. I have business cards in the same colors. I will use these cards to write the assignments on and insert them into each envelope. For some subjects, like Math, I will make one card and laminate it (with clear packing tape!). I will use a wipe off marker to write the lesson she is to complete each day. For other, more involved assignments, I will have to write it out on the card. I have a large stack of these cards so I should be in good supply for the year. When she finishes an assignment she will put the card into a small basket (really!) and if there is a written component, that will go into the "finished assignments" tray that we've had since our first day of homeschooling. Here is a picture of Social Butterfly's desk which she has had organized and ready to go since June:
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Besides the snack and the good literature and the quiet, the other special thing about Tea Time is that it marks the end of our "school day". The kids have been on a schedule since they woke up and this quiet end to our day marks the end of scheduled time. We have dinner at about the same time each evening, and if there are sports practices those are at a certain time, but for the most part the kids are free to play once tea time is over.
I'm a big advocate of free time for kids, especially when they are outside. During the summer months my kids play outside all the time. It is not something I have to force on them, it is something they enjoy. They come up with elaborate games, look for bugs, climb the trees, and just enjoy the freedom to be kids. It reminds me of my childhood when it was common to see bunches of kids playing outside all the time. I don't see that as much anymore and I wonder where all the kids are. (One day, we met a neighbor from down the street for the first time. He said, "Oh, you're the family with all the kids!" We only have 5 kids, but I think it seems like there are many more than that because they are always playing outside when people drive by.)
Back to the book basket... In years past I have tried different methods of filling this basket. We've done author studies and themes. I've tried changing the books weekly, monthly and quarterly. Any way we've done it, I always seem to be changing books at the last minute, running to the library in search of books about our next theme, and totally forgetting to update the blog with what we are reading. This year, I'm trying a different approach. As I do every year, I purchased some new books to add to our school library and those will go into the book basket first. I also went through our bookshelves and pulled out a few of the books we haven't read in a very long time, or the books that were read by Night Owl years ago, but the others haven't seen yet. There is no theme or particular author, it is just more of a hodge podge of literature that I want the kids to hear and read. I will begin with this basket load, and when we finish all the books here, refill it with more. There is a mixture of picture books and chapter books, fiction and non-fiction, and some poetry. Several of the new picture books are written by one of my favorite children's authors, Jan Brett. Many of the others are Geography related. We will be hitting geography hard this year, with Jetter working on United States Geography and Social Butterfly working on World Geography. I decided we needed to add to the Geography shelves in our school room.
You can see the books in our basket over on the sidebar. Just click on them to learn more about them.