Friday, February 26, 2010

.........................Seasonal Changes

Sometimes I feel like we should be called "Seasonal Homeschoolers".  It seems that our routine changes with the seasons.  For years this has been a frustration to me, but this year ( finally after 8 years of homeschooling) I've come to accept it.  Perhaps it's my personality, or maybe my children's, but either way we seem to crave a different order to our day as the seasons change.  I believe, within the structure of the homeschool environment, this change can be freeing and add new life to our day.

For the current year, I can look back and clearly see the changes I made with each new season.  In short, it went like this:  Because we ended last year with a bang using workboxes, I decided that we would start this year with the same routine.  It didn't work so well, so I changed it. 
With the beginning of Advent, and the start of winter, our basement school room seemed to become rather dreary, so we moved upstairs to the dining and sunrooms where there is more natural light.  The routine changed a bit more.
Now, as we are into Lent, and the thought of Spring is on the horizon, I'm thinking workboxes again!  We'll make that change after we take our Spring break.  For the most part, these changes are all very positive and the kids respond well.  Where something had begun to get stale, the little change brings new life and the kids are enthused again.  It reminds me of when I was a classroom teacher and the bulletin boards were changed for the new season.  The kids and teacher both were energized by the changes to the environment.

 For those that might be interested I've posted our current routine, or schedule below.  You can see I've built in some breaks.  During this season, we seem to need some mini-breaks throughout our day.  It's working better than our previous routine of getting all the work done and taking one long break.  The mini-breaks seem to help the kids (and maybe Mom too!) stay on task and focus on their school work.  I've also set it up in sort of a "block schedule".  After each block, we take a little break.  You'll see some times for each "block".  These are our guidelines.  I don't worry about being exact, but they help me to stay on track.  If we're supposed to start our Math at 10:00 and it's 10:15 I don't worry.  However, if I look at the clock and it says 11:00, then I know we need to get moving!

Our Current Routine:
1st Block ~ 8:00 ~ Getting Started:
The kids are all up by now.  Morning chores are done.  We say our morning prayers together and then we have breakfast.  During breakfast I read from our current history read aloud.  The kids draw if they finish breakfast and I'm still reading.  (I'll be posting about what they are drawing soon!)

Mini break until ...

2nd Block ~ 9:30 ~ Religion:
During this time I work with Jetter and Social Butterfly on their Religion.  They both use the same resource each day, but at different levels.  It's working well.  Builder plays with Beany.  I will do Religion with Builder in the next block.

Mini break until we move down to the school room for:

3rd Block ~ 10:30 ~ Math
Jetter and Social Butterfly work mostly independently while I do Religion and the other subjects with Builder.  Since Builder is doing kindergarten work, it doesn't take too long to go through his Religion, Math, Handwriting and Reading.  We usually finish about the time the others are finishing up their Math.

Snack and Mini break until ...

4th Block ~ 11:30 ~ Language Arts
During this time I cycle through the kids and we do spelling, handwriting, reading, copywork, grammar, etc.  Social Butterfly also has Latin during this time.  Because I don't know where else to put it, this is also the block of time during which geography and written history work are done.

5th Block ~ 1:00 ~ Lunch and Science
While the kids eat their lunch I read to them from our current science book.  After eating the kids pull out their science notebooks and do the sketches or other activities that go with the day's lesson.  This is working so well this year.  The kids are really enthused about each of the units we've studied. 

Big Break during which I require the kids to get some form of exersize.  No electronics.  Getting exersize is rarely a problem with my active bunch.  It seems that they are constantly in motion.  Just ask the people who sit behind us at church!  But the call of those electronic devices is strong so I have to be pretty strict about when they are aloud to use them.

Final Block of the Day ~ 4:15ish ~ Tea Time with Literature and Poetry
This is one of the favorite times of our day.  Since Night Owl needs to be picked up from school the time varies but he joins us for Tea Time whenever he is home for it.  I'm the only one who actually likes tea.  The kids just mostly have a snack.  But they all enjoy hearing poetry and reciting the poems that they are each learning.  Then I read to them, once again, from some sort of literature.  This is just for fun reading and there is no narration, journaling, sketching or assignments required.  Those things often just happen naturally though.  They enjoy telling Dad about what's going on in the books we are reading.  These narrations are often more detailed than the ones they are assigned to do.  Sometimes there are pictures to go along with it.  This is the sort of narration I like best;  the kind that comes from enthusiasm on the part of the student.     

Finally we come to the end of our structured day.  The kids do their afternoon chores and, if there is school work that didn't get done they do it after Tea Time.   The rest of the hours of the day are free for them.

That seems like a long day on paper, but in reality it's not bad at all.  There are some days when extra curricular activites change the schedule, but that is usually on Fridays when we have a lighter academic day so it works out fine.

Night Owl had a two hour delay today so the kids have one here too.  I've enjoyed the extra time to post to the blog since I don't seem to find the time for that much.  My two hours are almost up though, so time to get back to it!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

.....................Fat Tuesday for the birds?

The woods behind our house are just alive with birds this morning.  We have the "usual gang" at the feeder - finches, chickadees, junkos, tufted titmice, sparrows, and more. 

BUT, we've also been watching birds in the the trees and there are so many varieties!  Cardinals are on of my favorites, but check out this beauty: 

I think she must be a female cardinal but she's gorgeous! 

There are also quite a few Cedar Waxwings which we rarely see,

and ... are you ready?  Robins! 

There are also the woodpeckers, which we see frequently.  But today there are quite a few!  Red Bellied, Hairy, Downy, there all there.

 It's like a Bird party.  I'm reminded of the Dr. Seuss book, Go Dog Go, where all the dogs are going to the dog party.  Maybe we'll write a new story, Fly Bird Fly!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Science Olympiad

We're praying for Night Owl today.  He left at 5:30 this morning for the Science Olympiad Semi-Finals.  He is involved in 5 competitions:

and something called Write It, Do It

He was up late last night finishing the graphs and other information that need to be on display regarding the catapult he and a friend made for "Trajectory".  I know he'll be tired today, but it will be an exciting day so he probably wont notice til tomorrow morning!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow Day

I still have pictures on my camera from the last big snow.  I could just post them, since, well, snow is snow right?  This morning I'm not so sure though.  The snow that falls in December is different from the snow in February.  Or maybe it's just my attitude about it! 

In December the flakes were big.  They fell softly to the ground.  There was a quiet peace about it.  The snow that started yesterday was a bit more "angry".  Not the large gentle flakes that land on your mittens and invite careful observation with a magnifying glass.  Yesterday and last night, the snowflakes that fell from the sky came at a sideways angle and they were very tiny.  It almost looked like mist as it fell. 

It was the type of snow that made me worry about going to pick up Night Owl from school and how Dad would fair driving home from work.  This morning, the tree branches are heavy with it, just like they are in December, but it's also a "sticky snow" that covers the sides of the trees (revealing the angle from which it fell).  The wind blows still and the "mist of snow" falls from the roof tops.  Unlike December snow, it's the type of snow that doesn't invite us to come out and play.  It's more of a "lets hunker down and have a reading day inside" snow day. 

That's my plan anyway.  We'll read from our current history selection,  Madeline Takes Command, do some crafts in preparation for tomorrow's feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes, make hot co-co, and play some board games.  Sounds like a great snow day to me!   Maybe I'll have time to get that school room cleaned up!  This time of year it really needs a good cleaning.  Snow days are perfect for that sort of thing!
Of course, it looks like my kids disagree!

Happy Snow Day!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A great quote!

I just love this.  I could see any one of my children lying in bed thinking the same thoughts!

"Lying in bed would be an altogether perfect and supreme experience if only one had a coloured pencil long enough to draw on the ceiling."--G.K. Chesterton