Sunday, September 28, 2008

WOW..I Never Would Have Thought

Our oldest has never really enjoyed coloring or drawing. Our middle one will sit for lengthy periods of time coloring and likes to draw various things but our oldest has never really cared for it. That's ok with me but I was thinking that when she got to elementary school she would enjoy drawing more because they would teach her how to draw. Boy was I wrong! Our school was like most, there wasn't enough funding to have many art classes (1 class every 15 days or something like that) and what they were calling "art" was not what I remember as art. They never used paint, they didn't teach drawing at all...most of it was just a time waster. So, I was thrilled to learn about a man named Don West who teaches home schooled children how to draw. His classes fill up quickly and I'm not surprised. The classes are about 3-3 1/2 hours and are only $10 per child! More importantly, look what my 9 year old "I don't like to draw" child brought home after her first class last week! I was shocked! Not only was I shocked that she brought this picture home, but I was even more pleased that she continued to say, "Mom, that class was so fun. I love Mr. West! He kept talking to us while we worked and would yell out, 'Praise Jesus'. He's fun!" I guess she'll return next month!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Violinist?

We aren't one of those families where the kids do 100 different activities, mainly because the cost is so high! When we discussed home schooling we agreed that the girls would need an activity all for themselves and we would have to work it into the family budget. Peanut will be playing violin with the Flint Institute of Music. They have a wonderfully affordable program there and she was just thrilled to be at her first class today. A friend of hers from Kindergarten is doing the same class so she was really happy to see her as well.

An Art Lesson

I don't know how many of you know this, but art in our public school is terrible. Since kindergarten my oldest has brought home maybe 2 projects that I felt were ones that the teacher took any real time and thought in teaching the kids. The other projects were scratch art boards (to me, this isn't art) and pieces of plain white copy paper turned into to a string of Christmas trees (mind you the only "stuff" on the trees were drawn in pencil). So, I was looking forward to doing some art projects and even bought a book about teaching art using Caldecott award winning books. We haven't had time for art yet (I feel just like a public school!) but yesterday Brooke was watching Curious George the movie (her favorite character ever!) and there was a bonus feature titled "How To Draw George" so we all (yes, even mom) sat down to draw George. How fun! This is a picture of Sissy when she was all done and I think she did great! If you know of any art videos that show art lessons to elementary aged children, can you post a link here. I'd love to get my hands on some videos like this so we can ALL have fun!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tiny Tots for the Tiny One

3 years ago Peanut joined Tiny Tots rather than pre-school and last year Sweet Baby took part in it. Tiny Tots is a program for 3 and 4 year olds that meets at a local Lutheran church once a week for 2 hours. It is a sweet program where the kids get to make a craft, learn bible songs, hear bible stories, and learn how to play with other children. My kids love it. Sweet Baby is going to continue with Tiny Tots this year, we'll see how it works into our school day. Luckily it is just down the street from our library so more than likely we'll take our work there for the 2 hours that Sweet Baby is having fun. Yesterday was the information day and meet your teacher day at Tiny Tots. It was just an hour and Sweet Baby actually cried...when it was time to go home! She said "Mom, I don't want to go! It wasn't long enough."

Saturday, September 13, 2008

First Mom-led Field Trip

To end our week we went to For-Mar, a local nature preserve, to look at various mammals and feel their furs. We've been there as a family many times over the years and it has always been enjoyable for the kids. Since we are studying mammals and how can you tell if an animal is a mammal, I thought this would be a fun trip out. I had created sheets for the kids where they were required to find a mammal and tell the colors in the fur, the texture of the fur and if the furt was on every part of the mammals body or not.

Sweet Baby (4 years) was watching what was going on and asked if she could write as well. So, I pulled out a piece of paper and wrote things like "bear", "wolf", and her request - "mammals are cool" so she could trace them! We had hoped to take a picnic lunch with us and take a walk around the pond and in the woods but it is raining here in Michigan so we skipped the outdoor activities.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"OHHHH, look!"

We are studying mammals using the God's Design science program and I LOVE it! We all LOVE science right now. They use short lessons that both girls can understand. We discussed the differences between vertebrates and invertebrates the first week. Now we are onto the characteristics of a mammal. The girls are going to research an animal of their choice and prepare some notebooking pages or a report on the animal they chose. It was no surprise that Peanut chose her favorite animal, the polar bear. Sissy couldn't choose her favorite, the panda bear, because she had already done a report on it last year at school. So, she chose the cheetah. See all the "stuff" we have borrowed from the library! The table is full. Even Sweet Baby wants to "research" an elephant, her favorite animal.

Anyway, while looking through a wonderful encyclopedia of animals that we checked out from the library, they landed on bats and it showed a skeletal drawing of it and I hear Sissy say, "OOhhh look, see, that is the vertebrate like what we talked about last week!" I love seeing them learn from one another!

You Can't Do This In Public School

I require both Siss and Peanut to do private reading each day...usually for Kira about 1/2 hour (that seems like a long time for a 1st grader but she is reading some 2nd grade books and LOVES to read so she doesn't mind) and an hour for Sissy. I have some books chosen that are MY choice like Sissy will be required to read The Courage of Sarah Noble and Peanut just finished ALL 3 of the Frog and Toad books in 3 days! They are also still encouraged to read books of their own choosing (which they do). Today it was a pretty day and when Sweet Baby and Peanut took their nap, Sissy was found on the swing set reading. It occurred to me that she wouldn't be able to do this in public school!


Things are going so well. My kids are getting along so good. Mom isn't as frustrated or stressed as I have been the last couple years. What is happening?!?!? If this is what homeschooling is all
about, I'll take it!

Monday, after the 2 younger girls laid down for a nap (yes, my 6 year old still takes naps, but she asks for them usually!), Megan and I went outside to "her garden". Daddy tilled her a small area for her own place and she chose to plant sunflowers and pumpkins. She didn't mind watering "her garden" but when we reminded her that she should really be weeding her garden she replied with, "I don't even want that dumb garden!". Nice attitude huh? Anyway, we did the whole "plants can't grow if there are to many weeds, it's really sad that you don't want to finish a project you started after daddy took the time and energy to get you started". She did weed several times and now....she can see the fruits of her labor!

When she got all excited with the stuff she has grown, I said, "What about hating your garden now?" She said, "I like it now, but I did hate it this summer. It was nothing but a bunch of dirt and some weeds!"

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Great Day

I love great days! Nothing special needs to happen, but God just finds ways to remind us how blessed we are. We had a day like that on Saturday.
We had decided to go to Kennsington Metropark and take a picnic lunch and visit the farm area they have there. The weather was beautiful...just how I like a day in enough for a sweatshirt, a slight breeze but the sun is shining! We found a picnic spot on the lake and had hamburgers. The girls played a bit on the swings nearby and then Kira and I took a walk around part of the lake. After our lunch we went to the farm, had a hayride, the kids made honey butter, learned how to make granola, we saw some farm animals, and just really enjoyed each others company. I love days like this!

Monday, September 8, 2008

On To Week Two...

Whewww! Week one is done. What a week. I had several people ask me how the week went and I can tell you that I told everyone that my biggest suprise was how well behaved Sweet Baby was! Sweet Baby is 4 and has quite a demanding and strong willed personality. I was dreading how to keep her occupied and quiet so the other girls could work and we could get through the things I had scheduled. She amazed me and pretty much played by herself most days during school. A few times she joined us at the table to do things like lacing cards, matching letters, looking through seek and find books...she was really great.

Last week we had a light week. Due to the holiday weekend we didn't start school until Tuesday and I have scheduled our Fridays as library day/field trips. We do a spelling test each Friday and will use it to catch up on anything we didn't get to. Because we had discussed the differences between a biography and an autobiograpy, we went to the library on Friday and I showed the girls where the biography section was. Peanut was thrilled to find a biography about Walt Disney that she could read so we brought that home!

The girls worked on handwriting, math, spelling, history and science. On their spelling tests Peanut got all 5 of her words correct and Sissy got 9 out of 10 correct. She has been struggling with the word "neighbor" for some time.

In History we talked about the colonies, why the colonists left England, they drew a flag of England and labeled the colonies which gave us a chance to see how the borders of the colonies were different from the same states today. The girls also used the Map of Felicitiy's world to find various buildings on the map.

We are reading a biography about George Washington it is the Childhood of Famous Americans. I have to admit it isn't all that exciting, but so far it is about his early childhood, something both Megan and Kira can relate to.

One of the exciting things (and suprising) is that I scheduled them to do silent reading. Sissy was to read My Father's Dragon and I gave her about 2 weeks to finish it. She had it done in 2 days, took a test on the Book Adventure website and got 100%! Peanut was supposed to read Frog and Toad Are Friends and I gave her a week to finish it. She finished the 1st day and recieved 100% on her test as well.

The 2nd night I was feeling guilt again for denying the girls of the opportunity to make new friends at school. When I prayed with Sissy that evening I asked God to bless us in our schooling adventure. When the prayer was done she said, "Mom, home schooling is so much better than public school. In public school there are like a million kids in class and you don't even get to do all the things the teacher wants you to, or ask questions. Home schooling is so much better and I hope we do this next year." My husband pointed out how great it is that God speaks through our children!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I Love a Good Contest...And a Good Book

Shannon over at Song of My Heart (I adore her blog header!) is having a contest to win a copy of Draw, Write, Now. I LOVE those books. I've been lucky enough to find a few in our library but would love to own a copy! If you check out this blog entry you too can enter to win!

Funny Mispronunciations

When dh got home last night I was having the girls tell him what they learned. We were talking about the first colonies...I asked our 6 year old to tell dad about what she had learned..She pulled out the map of the colonies which she had colored and started reading the names of the colonies, when she got to New Hampshire she said "New Hampster"!!

Then she showed him the flag of England that she had drawn and when I asked her to tell daddy who the king of England was, she was very proud to say, "King Georgia"!!!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Day 1

Our first day of home schooling has come to an end. It sure went well! I was surprised as Sissy came out of her room at 7:10 this morning all dressed (in a dress and leggings none the less!) I said to her, "One great thing about home schooling is you can stay in your p.j.'s if you like." She responded with "No, I want to dress for today." Sweet Baby tugged at my heartstrings this morning when I overheard Sissy say to Peanut, "Today is the first day of school!" Sweet Baby's teary response was "No, I don't' want you to go!" Sissy was thrilled to tell her that they are staying home and won't be going anywhere.

We continued our yearly tradition of the girls picking whatever special "1st Day of School Breakfast." They all chose muffins, so we had some chocolate chip muffins and blueberry muffins. After muffins we were waiting to see the school bus drive down the road and wave to it. The girls ran off to do their morning chores and while they were in their rooms I went to each of them and genuinely told them how glad I am that they didn't have to get on the bus today. I couldn't imagine having them both gone all day...especially Peanut!

I know that our schedule will take some getting used to and we'll end up tweaking it..But today it went like this (I was SHOCKED how well we stuck to it! )

8:30 Morning chores

9:00 Prayer

9:10 Math

10:00 Handwriting

10:15 Spelling

10:30 History

11:30 Break till lunch

12:30 Lunch

1:00 Language Arts

2:00 Silent Reading

I hope I'm not cramming to much into a day. Sissy (9 years old) thought the day was long when she looked at it written out this past weekend, but really it went well. I was especially impressed at how well behaved Sweet Baby (4 years was). She played alone most of the time and sat at the table with us for about a total of an hour and a half today looking at books and playing with some alphabet pieces I gave her.

Here is a picture of Peanut after finishing her handwriting/copy work lesson for today. She practiced A and then did their memory verse for the next 2 weeks, which is John 15:13 Greater love has no more than this, than he who lays down his life for a friend. As you can tell, for a 1st grader who is still working on forming her letters, to write an entire verse and have it look so good is something to be proud of! I hadn't intended on expecting her to do the whole verse, but she just ran with it!

The best part of the day was when Sissy said "I love this, I want to home school next year to!" Granted she said this within the 1st hour of the day!!

Monday, September 1, 2008


Tomorrow is the big day! We begin school and the girls are quite excited. Tomorrow I'll take pics of our day and post them to share.

I mentioned that I had been very nervous. I'll explain why...I never notified anyone in the school that our girls would not be returning to school (we live in Michigan and it is not required), so last week we began receiving bus schedules, teacher assignments, a postcard from the 1st grade teacher to my daughter telling her how much fun they would have in 1st grade. Thinking about what I am "taking away from my girls" was driving me batty. I would break down in tears and several times felt like I would be sick. Luckily I have a few people in my life who offered up some wonderful words of advice and prayers as well. I keep trying to tell myself that I'm not actually taking anything away from them, instead I am giving them things that many kids will never have - the opportunity to grow closer as a family and have fun learning.

The first thing that set the anxiety off was learning that both of my girls would have the teachers that I feel are the best ones for their grade. In addition, the make up of the class that my 4th grader would have had is filled with children she was in class with for 1st and 2nd grades, and they are wonderful kids. If you remember, part of what spurred us in this direction was the lack of control in her class room last year. She was in a class room filled with children that didn't know how to behave and when I approached the principal about this fact (on three different occasions) I was told there is nothing that can be done. So, knowing that she would be in a class that was much different made me feel like maybe this coming year in school would be different. BUT then I remembered that Satan knows where I am weakest and that no matter when I promised God that I would listen to Him when He called me to keep the girls home. I promised I would listen until I felt that call change.

SO...away with the fears and on with a new adventure!