Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Planning, 1

Here is the first in a series of the before-mentioned planning posts for our 2010-2011 school year.  Planning has a been a bit more difficult this year because we have several changes that will be factored in.  For one, we will be moving our school room from the basement to the upstairs room that has been our "family room" for years.  It's smaller, but it has more natural light and it will be a nice change.  I don't have a picture of this room, but in this post, about mid way down, there is a picture of the wall to wall shelves in the basement school room that we will be giving up.  Yikes!  I think I'll plan to keep alot of our things down there and use it as a sort of library or storage area, only bringing up what we need, when we need it. The other change is on a much grander scale!  We'll be blessed with a special Christmas gift this year that will change quite a few things!  Due on December 23rd, our new arrival is sure to cause a bit of upheaval in our daily routine.  That's okay though!  It is a very welcome upheaval!

When I plan for a coming school year, I always start with the daily schedule.  I'm not sure why I do this since it usually changes once we get into the school year, but I think it helps me to feel better knowing there is at least a plan for the day.
To keep things as simple as possible, we will follow the basic routine that I wrote about in this post:
Lesson Planner . It outlines the day's schedule as it describes the planner I created. 

After a schedule works on paper, I decide on the curriculum we will use and place my book orders.  This is a huge process and takes the most time.  We are enrolled with Mother of Divine Grace so much of the planning has been done for me, but there are some things that I change, based on my children's needs, so there are still plenty of decisions that have to be made.  In Planning post 2 I will be talking about the curriculum choices.

I also need to plan for the planning which will happen on a regular basis all year long.  In the past I have planned weekly, usually on the weekend.  This year I am going to try something a bit different.  I'll be planning for 6 week periods.  So, every six weeks, I will be taking the time to plan for the coming six weeks, and it will take a while I'm sure, but it will free up the other five weekends.  I'm also going to build in a catch up week that will occur after each 6 week period.  This week will be "unplanned" as far as academics go, and I will use it to catch up where we may have gotten behind, do extra work where a child might be in need, or simply have fun and take some field trips.  In order to make this work so that we don't have to continue with school until next July, we will be starting our school year on August 1st this year.  It is early, but usually by August the kids are starting to get bored, it's hot and humid so there isn't too much desire to be outside all the time, and they've had a long enough break that they are refreshed and ready to start back in.  I think the promise of that lighter week every period will also make starting early a bit easier to handle.

The system I use for my planning is a bit complicated.  I'm simplifying things this year and will talk about that in a future post as well.

Finally, there are the workboxes .  These have become a regular part of our homeschool and we will continue with them.  They are going to make the transition from the basement to the upstairs school room easier, I'm sure.  Social Butterfly's system will change but Jetter and Builder will be using the same drawers that I mentioned in the workbox post above.

So that's a start!  I'll be writing up a couple more posts on this whole planning thing which consumes me this time of year.  I don't mind it, because I'm happiest when all my ducks are in a row.  I just have to get the kids to cooperate! :)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sounds of Summer

Around the end of March, everyone, including Mom, starts wishing summer would arrive soon.  We all think of sleeping in late and enjoying quiet peaceful mornings.  I, personally, think of sitting quietly in the extended hours of stillness (because the kids are sleeping in) sipping my coffee and watching the river slowly move along.

However, this morning there was no quiet ripple of the river, no bird songs out the open window.  Instead, I could hear myself yelling, as I banged on the bathroom door, "Social Butterfly, get OUT of the shower!" ,  and as I made my way down the hall, "Night Owl, get UP and get into the shower!" , and then "Everyone, get in here and eat your breakfast, right NOW!", and finally "Someone buckle Beany into his car seat - HURRY!  We're going to be late!" 

So much for quiet peaceful mornings.  It seems like everyone is running in different directions this summer and I'm the only taxi driver on duty!

Wont it be nice when school starts up again and we all have a chance to just calm down and get back to a routine?!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Camping Pictures

We're back from a great camping trip.   I say "great" because of the time we spent as a family, enjoying each other's company and just relaxing together which we never seem to have much time to do otherwise.  It was not so great weather-wise, but we made due.  Actually, some of the best times we had came as a result of the bad weather!
I didn't get pictures of everything and I'm disappointed about that.  There were blue lipped kids who insisted on playing at the beach and swimming even though the temperature never got above 60 degrees.  There was the nature hikes we took and the beautiful wild flowers we saw.  Then there was the rousing game of Cranium which came as a result of down-pours of rain and the need to stay in the tent with 5 kids for a long period of time!  We actually drove to a little town near the state park to buy a new game just for this purpose!  However, despite the cold and the rain we still had lots of fun. 

There was plenty of fishing for Night Owl

Kayaking for everyone,

Both on, and off the water!

Trees that begged to be climbed, over and over again!

Play dough in the tent when it was too muddy to play outside:

Lots of time to just enjoy each other's company,

or just relax.

And of course there were chores to be done, which seem  a little less like chores when you're camping.

As with all camping trips the highlight seemed to be the time spent around the evening camp fire. 

We had a different treat each night.  There were s'mores, of course.  I have no pictures of that night because I was too busy doling out marshmallows and chocolate!  We also made carmel corn in the dutch oven on the fire.  That was a new experience!  We all enjoyed the process of making it, and of course eating it!

We also made little pies with the pie irons.  Night Owl and Dad were in charge of the cooking part.  These irons get hot!  But the raspberry pie filling was delicious!

So despite the rain and cool weather we all had a great time - even the dog!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Still here

We're still here.  I'm in packing and planning mode.  I've also been receiving all that new curriculum I ordered for the coming school year and I've been going through it.  There will be some more planning posts coming soon, as well as pictures from our camping trip!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Granola with Builder

Builder likes to get up early on "Granola Making Morning" and help me out.  He loves to eat it too, but I think the making it is his favorite.  It's not something he can do independently because it involves chopping and a hot oven, but I have been working on teaching him to do some of the steps by himself.  One thing I have done is create a picture recipe showing the various steps.  We use a recipe from  the More With Less Cookbook.  This is a cookbook I've had for years and it is well worn.  I've tried other granola recipes too, but this one is the standard.  I've also  made a few adjustments to make it gluten free.  For example, instead of using wheat germ, we use flax seed and I make sure the oats are gluten free.  This is what Builder's  recipe looks like:

1 - Gather the ingredients for the pan.  In this case, honey, oil and cinnamon.

2 - Gather the ingredients for the bowl.  Today it will be oats, flax seed, sesame seed, sunflower seeds and almonds.

3 - Put the wet ingredients in the pan and stir it over medium heat until it is mixed together. 

4 - Have mom chop the nuts.  (In this case we used almonds, but we really like pecans!)

5 - Mix all the dry ingredients, including the nuts in the big bowl.

6 - Ask mom to help poor the hot liquid into the bowl, then mix it all together.

7 - Poor it into two cake pans and spread it evenly.

8 - Bake it at 325 degrees

9 - For 20 minutes.

10 - Have mom take the pans out and stir the granola then put them back in the oven.

11 - Bake it for another 10 minutes or until it just starts to turn golden brown.

12 - Have mom take it out and spread it on clean kitchen towels or cloth napkins to cool (don't use the fuzzy kind!)


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Finishing the Year, Highschool Version

Just like the school year has come to an end here at the Academy of the Good Shepherd,  it is coming to an end at Night Owl's school as well.  He couldn't be happier!   Some of the grand finale's for his year were:
His last track meet ~
He ran the "400" and the "4x4" which is a relay.  He was also in the competition for discus throwing and came in 4th place.  Lot's of 4's that day!

The fence that the throwers have to stay behind is really not so great for taking pictures, but after seeing a couple of wild throws, I'm glad it's there!

 It was a very warm day!  The little boys tried to keep  cool with the little fans that came with their candy:

I'm not sure how well they actually worked though.

~Then there was the Science Fair.  Remember when he grew this?  Ewww!

If you didn't see that post, this is E-Coli Bacteria.  He grew it in petri dishes and tested various cleansers to see which ones were most effective in killing it.  I thought it was a wonderful idea for an experiment until I learned he actually had to grow the bacteria!  He found out that some cleansers work only on direct contact, and some have more of a "spread".  His actual experiment was to compare the spread or "Measure of Inhibition" which it is technically called.  We learned alot about bacteria and what kills it.  I am very happy to have it out of the house!

~Then, there was this that came in the mail.  I can say without hesitation that I am a proud Mama!  This is a congratulatory letter for being accepted into the National Honor Society.  You can try clicking on it to make it bigger:

~Finally, yesterday was the awards ceremony where he received the awards for good grades.  My pictures all turned out blurry for that so I'm sorry to say I don't have any to share.

He's not completely done.  He still has a few days of final exams next week.  But it's slowly coming to an end.  I'm so glad.  It's time to start packing for a camping trip.  We're all looking forward to that!  (Uh, the trip I mean.  Not the packing!)