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22 February 2011

Open Sesame!!

Mom: Open Sesame!!

Monkey: opens mouth

Mom: (Pops in a peanut he's tasting.)

Monkey: (Makes a yucky face.)

Mom: Thank you for tasting it.

Monkey: My mouth was Sesame Street. A yucky Sesame Street.

18 February 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: The Late One

We tried out Postcrossing this week, and I'm really excited. I think that once the postcards start coming in from around the world Monkey will too. Plus, he loves the globe we got. For our first card, sent to Malaysia, we looked at Google Maps (he loves google maps), & printed a copy for a geography binder, put a sticker on our wall map, and found Malaysia on the new globe. We also got a sort of social studies atlas that we looked up Malaysia in - did you know they sometimes have floating markets? Sort of a grocery store on the river? Plus we also watched this travel clip.

Phonics we did, but in an easy-going way. Nothing exciting happened here.

Math went well too. The lessons we're working on right now are shape-heavy, which is fun. We've done a couple different shape drawings, including a cute circle monster, but I didn't get any pictures.

Probably the most fun of the week was building a new science binder and doing some more experiments. We've been playing with vinegar again, this time adding salt to clean up some pennies. He also did a narration for it and one the floaters and sinkers experiment we did late last week. Plus, he's had "science" in almost every bath since then. Gotta love requests for repeats! Looks like the pennies are something he also is going to want to revisit.

We also made some craisins dance.

This ended the first two weeks for my new planning schedule thingamajigs, and so far it seems to be working nicely. I'm learning that I'll need to be more organized about having things ready to go. Getting things ready to go currently uses up a bunch of our time. I'm going to need to both adjust my expectations of how long this is going to take in any given day and also become better at being ready to go so the transitions are smoother. I'm beginning to understand more clearly why people talk about homeschooling as a lifestyle: it's going to be a huge part of what I do.

My other cutie fell asleep in the high chair, and knowing that I wasn't going to be able to move him, I let him snooze... and snapped a few pictures. No, that's not snot by his nose. I think it's a bit of the biter biscuit he was working on. Still gross, but I'm such a sucker for his chubby little self that I didn't even notice until I looked at the pictures!

16 February 2011

Links and Links

I've stolen a few minutes to visit some of the blogs I enjoy. At least, it feels a little like stolen time these days! There are some fun things out there.

Probably the most cool thing I've run across in quite a while is Postcrossing. They've got a system where you send out postcards to random places. Once people start registering the cards you send, you receive them too. Our first card is waiting to go out tomorrow: to Malaysia. How cool is that?

Cellista shared some fun stuff on how her family does their timelines, with a number of timeline resource links & mini reviews of them. Very cool.

I'm always interested in reading about narration these days, now that we're starting to do it. Nancy's got a very encouraging bit about the benefits of narration she sees in her kids.

And, here's a tutorial for making a camera strap cover. I've got fabric picked out; all I need to do is find time to actually MAKE the thing.

11 February 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: the One Where I Had a Birthday

This week was my birthday! One of my best friends had us over for dinner. She made the best squash I've ever eaten - little chunks on the salad. Raven was loving it, and I want to get the recipe. She got me cupcakes. I took pictures of them with the new DSLR that Hubs got me. (He actually gave it to me at the tail end of December, so I'm starting to be more comfortable with it, and to get more good photos again. I love it!) It was an awesome day. Plus, I got new boots so the snow doesn't get on me when I'm going to church. It's good to have a birthday!

In school this week:

We had a great time doing science: we did "Sinkers and Floaters" from Mudpies to Magnets. Monkey predicted which toys would sink and which would float surprisingly accurately. The duplos were especially cool because they both sank and floated, depending on how they were sitting in the water.

For Art, we actually did two projects. This is the first:

Raven got to try it out too. It was his first time to participate in a project like this: I let him play with my birds, and showed him how crayons work. Coloring wasn't nearly as interesting as the little paper bird itself. Good thing cupcake papers are relatively tough!

The finished products. The one Raven & I did is on the left. Monkey's is on the right. He did his nearly entirely on his own, and told me his birds were flying over the ocean, which is what those colored streaks he drew are.

The second project, eggs in nests in trees, was interesting to me because we did it while Monkey had some friends over, one a year older, and one a year younger. I thought the differences those years made in their art was amazing. Here they are, in age order:

Our Math book has moved off of focusing so much on the numbers 1-5, and is starting to work with 6-10 now. We did shapes on the flannel board and graphing to work with these larger numbers, and I helped Monkey find what the book calls 5-groups in the numbers. We also introduced skip counting. We're counting by 5s first, because Monkey wants to learn to tell time.

Phonics was a bit of a struggle this week. We're practicing, waiting for fluency to increase before I introduce too much more. It's coming, but Monkey just wasn't into doing the games this week. I'm seriously considering giving this a rest for a week again. I don't want to have power struggles over this, or to have him decide he doesn't like reading.

Stuart Little spent most of the week lost, so we read poems, but not the regular read-aloud. We added Leviticus 19:11 to our scripture box this week:

Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another.

It's been an extremely busy week, so I plan to see if we can't squeeze in another science project (Dunking Raisins) and a narration today. Shouldn't be too difficult.

09 February 2011

Finances and Fellowship

The Deputy Headmistress is hosting a wonderful conversation about subtle financial pressures at church. There's a lot of food for thought in both her post and the comments. Figuring ways to plan activities that cost little or nothing is a tricky thing to do, but I think it's an important skill that a lot of us are going to need to develop more fully in these difficult times, as Inflation works her despicable "magic" on our incomes and Unemployment becomes an unwelcome guest in so many homes. The discussion continues in the comments of a second post, which includes a number of good ideas for low and no cost activities.

07 February 2011

More on Planning

Sherri asked me to share a little bit more about my planning, so here it is! Let me first say, I'm no kind of expert here. But if this will give you some ideas, then I'm happy to share what I'm doing.

We've been playing at "doing school" for a couple years. Basically, we've done preschool at home. I started out planning a week at a time right on my blog. After a while I had a general idea of what I wanted to do, but I didn't really write up a plan. Instead, I started participating in the Weekly Wrap-up to keep myself on task. Preschool really isn't very difficult, and this wasn't very hard, but it was effective at keeping things on the top of my mind.

Now, we're more or less doing Kindergarten (though the label means a lot less at home), and I'm feeling the need to plan a bit more. Over the past while we've been adding bits here and there, and I started needing some kind of checklist to make sure that I was getting everything accomplished. I've been using a marker board. The colorful words are actually permanent marker, which washes off easily with the white board cleaner. I use a regular dry erase marker for check marks. The marker board also tends to be where I keep a to-do list if I've got one.

I really like a lot of things about the marker board. I've been considering keeping it for some aspects of our day, notably scripture study, but also piano lessons and read-alouds. Basically for things that will continue even in "off" weeks.

But with adding our new content that we're doing, I began to feel like I need something more than just the marker board, so I made up this spreadsheet. It was inspired by this and this, which I ran across on the Hive Mind message boards, though I can't remember who posted them. I wanted to create a checklist sort of format for myself. Mine is nothing fancy; just a list on the left of all the subjects we'll be covering by about September. There are two columns, one week in each. That's where I write in my plans. Most of the subjects can be planned out in advance, so I did 6 weeks. Some things, such as phonics and piano lessons (when they start) are mastery-based, so it'll be more a journal of what we did, rather than a plan for those areas. I just made a note of what we're doing the book & page number for reference so that I can find my place quickly and easily. If you click the picture you can enlarge to see exactly what we're doing this week.

This is a brand new thing for us, so I can't tell you how well it's going to work. I'm not naturally good at time management, so for me that's going to be the great challenge. I'll need to actually look at my plans. Fortunately, this sort of thing is a skill that can be developed, and kindergarten is not compulsory, so we still have time for me to practice.

06 February 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: Books and More Books

I've been planning out the next year and a half, and almost all my books are here, except for History. Well, and the "Animal Encyclopedia" that was mislabled: the sticker says it's an Animal Encyclopedia, but the title says "The Oswego Fugues" and it's strange poetry inside. So we'll have to see about sending that one back and getting the right one. But otherwise, getting all these books in the mail is very exciting!

I sat down and did some planning. I've got things sketched out for the next 6 weeks or so. I don't want to plan out too far in advance yet, because I want to make sure the little planning form I made up is going to work for me before I get crazy with the planning. It's exciting! I'm really looking forward to doing this next week, and seeing how things go. We're picking up the pace a little bit, and will continue to do so over the next couple months. The plan is to be at a full schedule in September.

Raven was busy too this week: he did a couple of big things. One was his first hunk of banana, which he loved. And so of course he made a slimy mess out of it. He also sat up for 5 seconds, unassisted. And he signed "milk" for the first time, clear as day. I love baby sign language!

04 February 2011

My Helper

He's "folding" the laundry for me. The little balls on the floor in front of the basket are ones already "folded." So we all sat down and folded together, and he had a lesson in how to fold clothes. He did well.

03 February 2011

Narrations Update

We've been trying our hand at narrations for a bit now, and it's going OK. Which is to say, I think it's working, but I'm still trying to figure out exactly what I'm looking for and what it should look like. Until I figure that out, it's hard to say exactly how well it's going!

I loved this narration - particularly the part Monkey added about the Lord telling Jonah "Thank you very much." That kid cracks me up. When he tells me, I do my best to write it down exactly in his words. This style, where I write what he tells me seems to go better than the more open-ended type I tried at first.

Here's another one that I liked. We read "The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig," which is a very entertaining book (as long as you don't look too closely at the subtext). Monkey loves the tools the pig uses to destroy the wolves' houses, and so they made it into the narration.

So, it's going pretty well. But posts about narrations always catch my eye. Over at Smooth Stones Academy, Jennifer just reposted a comparison between Charlotte Mason's thoughts on doing narrations and the descriptions of narrations in The Well-Trained Mind. She says:

Essentially, the main difference between a WTM (Classical) narration and a CM narration is that the former wants more of a summary and the latter wants a child to tell all he is able to recall.

I'd have to agree with her conclusion that these are two separate skills, both worthy of attention. Monkey tends to start out pretty rambly, and I help him focus down a bit, so we can fit it on the paper, and he retells me, so it's in his words. Perhaps we should sometimes do both styles in separate narrations. We'll have plenty in the next while as we start adding a bit more to our schedule.


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