Friday, August 31, 2012

The AWANA year has begun!

The AWANA year has begun and we are all so excited to go each Wednesday night! Jonathan has graduated Cubbies and has moved on to Sparks!! This week he received his new vest, bag, and book! He loves being in Sparks with his big brother, Aaron ... and tells me a hundred times a day how much he loves being a Sparky!! I am thankful that I have 2 children with Ms. Amy in Sparks!

I am so honored to be serving as a leader in Cubbies again this year. I don't know how it happened, but Rosalie - my baby - is now with me in Cubbies. It's so hard for me to believe that she is already old enough to be a Cubby! This week she received her Cubbies vest ...

...bag, and book. She LOVES being in Cubbies with Ms. Tara and all the other wonderful Cubbies leaders. She loves AWANA just as much as her brothers and me! (it was crazy hat and hair night, by the way ... another post about that coming soon!)

Aaron is still in Sparks, and he received his new book, and he got a patch this week for me to sew on his vest. Martin is in the 5th and 6th grade segment of Truth and Training. He earned his book and his new shirt this week, but the shirts weren't in yet. He'll get it next week! We are so happy that AWANA is back in session!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Painting with Watercolors ... a finished work

Yesterday, I shared that Martin is learning how to paint using watercolors. This is the finished product for this week! I am amazed at the wonderful paintings that he is producing each week. He is already getting better and better at it!

This school year, we are studying the poetry of Robert Frost. The painting is always related to the poem of the week that he studies. He writes a small portion of the poem each week to paste to his painting.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pressing on

Martin is learning how to paint using watercolors as a part of his 5th grade curriculum. It's a learning process for both of us. I have very little experience with painting, so we are learning together. He really enjoys it, though, and I can understand why! It's so relaxing and somewhat therapeutic. It's really a good fit for him this year. With each new school year, we add more and more work to his schedule which is a normal progression as he ages. However, it seems like each year, he struggles more and more with working through all the distractions. It is a huge and very difficult issue for him. There are days that it takes him an entire day to do what should only take him 4 hours. It causes quite a bit of tension between us because I feel as though I am constantly nagging him to get his work done. It makes me feel as though I am arguing with him all day.
Phillipians 2:14
Do all things without complaining or disputing.
One day last week at about 5:30 AM, I was up packing a lunch, making coffee and breakfast for Rich, so that he could leave by 6AM to get to work. Martin came downstairs and said that he woke up and couldn't get back to sleep. So, I told him to go to the school room and do some reading. I jumped in the shower, and it hit me that I should take advantage of the fact that Martin is awake and no other children were! So, I ran upstairs and we started our school day ... in complete silence and were able to work for an entire hour before anyone else woke up! He was able to get so much done AND he was DONE before lunch time!! He was a very happy boy that day! Distraction is a real struggle for him. He doesn't want to spend all day doing his school work. He really does want to get done in a timely manner. So, I asked him if he wanted to keep getting up early to do school work ... and he really wanted to keep getting up early. So, my alarm clock is now set for 6 AM, and I quietly make my way upstairs, gently rub his arm, and I am rewarded with a smile before he even opens his eyes. We work together diligently for an hour to an hour and a half before the other awaken and the breakfast madness begins. (if the others wake up before I am ready to be done with Martin, I send them downstairs to wait for me) I ask Martin each night before he goes to bed if he still wants to get up early ... he never hesitates to say YES! He rather enjoys being done at the same time as the others. Most of the time he only has painting and/or reading to do after lunch. I don't love getting up at 6 every morning, but it is absolutely worth it to see such excellent results from Martin. His attitude has changed, his countenance is more joyful, and he has a sense of accomplishment and success in what he is doing each day. His self esteem was really being affected by not being able to stay focused. I am so thankful for this minor change that we made that has had such a major affect on our day!

 I also added a high quality krill oil supplement to his daily regimen. Jury is still out to whether or not that is helping him or going to help him with his distraction and focus issues. He already is on a whole foods diet void of food coloring, high fructose corn syrup, and other preservatives, so I don't feel the need to modify his diet too much. My child was struggling and we made some minor changes to try and improve his situation. I have been praying for him diligently and seeking answers to how I can help him, and I believe that God has given me the answer that I was seeking.

Psalm 146:1-2
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! While I live I will praise the Lord; I wills ing praises to my God while I have my being.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Our School Room

I have recently been inspired by my friend, Tara and the pictures she posted on her blog about her school room. I've had an official school room for almost 2 years now, and have never gotten around to putting my maps on the wall. My mom got them for me years ago! I suppose that my days are so full that I never really had the energy to do any more than just get the books on the shelf and do school each day. So, thank you, Tara for lighting a fire of inspiration under me to get my stuff on the walls!

Last year, I had each of the children paint a picture for me so that I could frame them and hang them in the school room. These pictures have been sitting under the futon for almost a year! They are now on the wall above the futon and surrounding the map of the USA.
There are several things on this wall. The white board that we use on occasion, the calendar, and in the far left corner you can see the word ART. It's harder to see, but I also have hooks attached to the wall, and I will tie twine from hook to hook and then use clothes pins to hang all of the artwork that the children will create this year. The table below the white board is used for school work, listening (CD player and Ipod dock), and sometimes computer work.
I recently got a laminating machine and I have been putting it to much use! I laminated several math charts and language charts and I mounted them on the walls above and surrounding the closets. (Math is on the left and Language is on the right) We also use the TV on occasion for historical or scientific documentaries. The desk is used for school work, and the printer is used a ton for all sorts of needs that come up every day. (the index cards hanging on the left closet is the time line that Martin did last year ... I can't bear to take it down!)

I am thankful that we have the room that is completely devoted to our home school. I am thankful for good friends who inspire and cheer me on in this homeschool journey. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sweet Friends

We are so blessed to live where we do! We have wonderful neighbors, lots of children running around, and a great culdesac for lots and lots of play! Rosalie and Hannah are such sweet friends. Rosalie loves Hannah to pieces and always wants to go outside so she can play with her Hannah!

Hannah's Mommy has 2 boys and her youngest is a girl ... and I am so happy that these two little girls have each other since they are both growing up with lots of boys!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Martin is learning to play the Trumpet

I recently signed Martin up for a year of band. When we were in Virginia, I took Martin to a local band director so that I could see him on each instrument and especially check to see if he had any natural abilities on a specific instrument. (and to get the professional opinion of the band director) The band director was my student way back in the day when I was a high school choral director. (Before the days of babies, diapers, lack of sleep, exhaustion, joy like I've never known it, and gray hair)
When I was teaching high school chorus, I got the bright idea to try and recruit some boys from the band to join the choir. How much better could it get than to find some instrumentalists who could also sing? I found quite a few ... put them in my advanced a capella chamber choir ... and it was one of the best things I ever did!
Steven is one of the ones that I recruited. He went on to get a college degree in Music Education. He is now a band director in Virginia. He sat down with Martin and put several instruments to his lips and we figured out that trumpet would probably be the best choice. (trumpet was Martin's first choice ... so it worked out really well!)

I started playing flute in the band when I was 10 years old, and I'm so glad Martin will have the chance as well!

I have signed him up with the Capital Christian Homeschool Band that meets not too far down the road. He will go twice a week and also be required to practice using the digital practice software, Smart Music. (wow, things are so much different today!)
I am so excited that Martin has this opportunity. Aaron is disappointed that he has to wait another couple years to join!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Curriculum Choices for Jonathan

Jonathan has (once again) started Kindergarten. I have no regrets about waiting another year for him to mature. He is doing really well this year! He remembers all that we started last year and is going at a much faster rate with no difficulty whatsoever!
I have pieced together a curriculum to take Jonathan through this year that is super easy to implement and also easy for Rosalie to join with us too. (on some things)

I scheduled several books using a 4 day a week lesson plan.  These plans are not sophisticated by any means - they are just a straight forward scheduling of books to use and what pages to do or read. I don't have super fun hands-on projects for them to do like the HOD guides always provide. My plan is to have the two younger tag on with Aaron any time I have the paints, clay, or other type of activities out for him to do. And since I have been steeped in the Charlotte Mason method for the past 4 years, I am able to employ her methods without notes on how to do it and what to say. So, if you need those special notes and fun hands on projects ... my lesson plans won't help you! I use the Little Hearts for His Glory curriculum guide for the Kindergarten Math plans and the Rhymes in Motion plans as well as the handwriting, Do it Carefully, and Finding the Answers. I will use Little Hearts for His Glory in it's entirety with 1st grade options next year with Jonathan. 
I am using The Reading Lesson to teach Jonathan how to read. I love the ease that this curriculum brings to teaching a child to read. I have used a couple of other methods for teaching reading ... but this one tops them all. I will definitely use this again for Rosalie!

In the lesson plans that I provided above, it states that I am using A Reason for Handwriting K. I was definitely planning on using that curriculum with Jonathan and did use it last year (during our first attempt at K) for about 6 weeks. It is the curriculum I used for both Martin and Aaron - and loved! However, it was not working at all for Jonathan. Jonathan almost always shed tears over his handwriting, so I thought I would try Handwriting Without Tears (HWT)for Jonathan this year. We are doing about 1 page per day. This curriculum definitely is true to it's name for Jonathan. No More Tears! I am convinced that Jonathan had difficulty with visual processing with the other curriculum. Those issues have been resolved with the HWT curriculum. 

This is the Little Hearts For His Glory(LHFHG) curriculum guide that I am using for the Math plans, Do it Carefully, Finding the Answers, and Rhymes in Motion. It is an excellent complete curriculum that I plan on using as written for 1st grade.

I have scheduled Bible Stories to Read, Bible Pictures to Color, and Family-Time Bible for the history and Bible portion of our lessons.

I am using Our Father's World for Science. I also found free printables that go with many of the science lessons to supplement the readings. The reason I chose not to go through the selected Kindergarten Science text from Little Hearts is because I prefer the way the K Science book is scheduled in a way that makes each of the units more cohesive. So, even though Jonathan will be 1st grade next year, I plan on taking him through the K Science text next year.

We will use Do it Carefully and Finding the Answers to work on matching, cutting, pasting, following directions, tracing, neatness, circling, underlining, crossing out, rhyming, and basic grammar.

In the lesson plans provided above, I have the Earlybird Kindergarten Math 2A and 2B scheduled. (I use the math plans from the LHFHG curriculum guide.) This particular math curriculum is no longer available to purchase, however. Since I did about 6 weeks of these books last year, I am using Rod and Staff beginning arithmetic with Jonathan right now. I will switch back to Singapore once we get 6 weeks into our lesson plans - but I will continue using the Rod and Staff to supplement. It seems to be a really good match for Jonathan. He's doing really well with it!

I have selected several books for story time. The Story About Ping, Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel, Meet the Orchestra, Saint George and the Dragon, The Velveteen Rabbit, Tornado, and The Adventures of Bobby Racoon.  I will use those books to begin teaching oral narration.
One of the reasons that I prefer not to take a Kindergartener through LHFHG is because the read a-loud selections can be difficult for a 5 year old. I wanted to spend the K year easing into read a-louds and especially easing into oral narration. Last year, when I started the short stories and introduced oral narration to Jonathan ... he had trouble recalling anything that I read to him. This year he is retelling the story to me in great detail! All of my children love read a-louds! Rosalie always joins us for this portion of our school day as well!
It only takes us about 45 minutes each day to complete it and we are having so much fun with it this year.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Creation to Christ - curriculum choices for Martin - 5th grade

Martin is doing 5th grade this year. It is so hard to believe that I have a 5th grader on my hands! He will be doing Creation to Christ from Heart of Dakota. (HOD) The picture above is Martin's curriculum guide. I was very blessed to receive the curriculum including almost every single book that I needed for Martin's 5th grade year from my sister. (my sister used it with her daughter a few years ago and saved it for me) The curriculum guide was in very used condition ... and some of the pages were falling out, so I took the book completely apart, put each page in a plastic page protector, and put all of the pages in a large binder. I LOVE having the guide in this format. It's super big and bulky - but it is really nice having each page protected by plastic!
I also put dividers in the back to make it easy to flip back to the appendix where the poetry selections, math schedule, and dictation passages are located. Martin will be studying the poetry of Robert Frost this year. Along with learning the poetry of Frost, he will be learning the art of Watercolor painting. Each week he will draw a specific painting (related to the poem) using watercolors. He's already loving it!
Bible - is woven all throughout the curriculum in every subject. However, for a more intense study, we will be studying the book of Philippians this year and memorizing the 2nd chapter.
Music - Martin will be playing the trumpet this year with the local homeschool band organization. I'll post more about that later.
I made 3 main notebooks for Martin this year  - 2 for notebooking (science and history) and 1 for  his daily checklists, vocabulary, and English worksheets. HOD provides BEAUTIFUL history notebooking pages once you get to the CTC guide! They are on cardstock with very nice graphics. By the end of the year, Martin will have a wonderful keepsake of what he learned in History this year!
For English this year, Martin will be using Rod and Staff English 5 and Write with the Best, Vol. 1. I always order the English sets directly from Rod and Staff because I enjoy the worksheet and tests that are provided in the sets. The worksheets contain similar activities to what you would see in the textbook. I use the tests on the days that are scheduled for chapter review in the guide. 
This is my first year using Write with the Best, so I have no reviews for it yet. Rod and Staff does teach writing, so Martin has had some exposure to writing, but he's not had it in great detail as this curriculum will provide. Interestingly enough, even though Martin hasn't had much instruction in writing, he tested on an early 8th grade level for writing this past March. I am convinced that a steady flow of exposure to excellent literature as well as the practice of oral and written narration has helped his writing skills tremendously!
For History this year, Martin will be covering in great detail the time period between Creation through  the life of Christ. We will read The History of the Ancient World, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, A Child's Geography, and Genesis: Finding Our Roots. He will listen to the 6 CD set called What in the World, and he will use Draw And Write Through History for history notebooking. Martin loves history! We are really excited about diving deeper into this time period.
Martin also loves Science. He will be reading  Exploring Creation with Zoology 3: Land Animals of the Sixth Day, Birds of the Air, Plant Life in Field and Garden, The History of Medicine, An Illustrated Adventure of Human Anatomy, and Galen and the Gateway to Medicine. I was able to download a set of fantastic Science notebooking pages from the HOD yahoo group! They have fun graphics on them and should make his notebooking assignments a little more exciting for him. 
We selected the History Read A-loud option for the story time portion of the curriculum. He will read  Dinosaurs of Eden, The Golden Bull, Boy of the Pyramids, Jashub's Journal, God King: A Story in the Days of King Hezekiah, Archimedes and the Door of Science, Cleopatra, City: A Story of Roman Planning and Construction, Traveling the Way, and The Accidental Voyage. 

Martin has been doing Singapore Math since 2nd grade. It is a good fit for him. He has established excellent mental math skills.  (however, sometimes he doesn't write problems down that he should and that can get him into trouble!) He is still finishing up 4B right now, but in a few weeks he'll be headed into Singapore Primary Mathematics 5A and 5B. 
We are using Drawn into the Heart of Reading for our reading/literature curriculum. The books above are the books that Martin will be reading. I am so thankful that both of my older boys love to read. Martin has always been a strong reader and enjoys it. He doesn't enjoy the analysis part. It has always made DITHOR frustrating for me and for him. Last year, I actually put the curriculum away mid-year and only had him do oral narration with his reading books.  I am so thankful and happy to report that we have really turned a corner this year with this program. I don't know if something developmental has occurred or if the years of oral and written narration are finally paying off, but I am thrilled that the literature analysis is going very well for him this year!
DITHOR provides pre-reading activities, vocabulary lessons, guided literature discussions as well as a focus the godly character traits of faith, fear of the Lord, responsibility, brotherly love, loyalty, virtue, obedience, joy, and integrity.

If you managed to get through this entire post, thanks for sticking with me! I use Heart of Dakota not only for the rigorous academic Charlotte Mason style curriculum that it is, but also because of how it so carefully weaves Christ through each and every aspect of study. It provides a means for intentional heart to heart conversations about important life situations in a way that isn't artificial! I will post about what I am using for Jonathan's Kindergarten next!  I am so excited about the 2012-2013 school year!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Curriculum Choices for Aaron - 3rd Grade

I am using Bigger Hearts For His Glory from Heart of Dakota (HOD) for Aaron this year. Aaron is in 3rd grade. I started using HOD when Martin started 2nd grade. This is my 4th year using a Charlotte Mason approach to learning and it is a wonderful fit for our family.

I don't have a picture to share but Aaron will be using Cheerful Cursive to learn how to write cursive. He is so excited to finally be learning how to write cursive. I love Cheerful Cursive and found that when Martin went through it he rarely needed any assistance at all. Aaron is on the same track and rarely needs any help with it. (which allows me to get some work done with Jonathan while Aaron works independently!)
Aaron will be working through Singapore Math 3A and 3B U.S edition.  He is still finishing up his 2B workbook at this point, but it shouldn't be too much longer before he heads into 3A. I purposely slowed him down last year to work on memorization of multiplication facts. 

The history spine includes A First Book in American History, Journeys in TIme, Stories of Great Americans, and The Story of the Wright Brothers and their Sister. I took Martin through this curriculum 2 years ago - and am enjoying reading through the books again with Aaron!

We will be using Rod and Staff English 3. I thoroughly enjoy Rod and Staff English. It is no secret that I am just not a math kind of a girl ... however, English is very enjoyable to me. I love teaching it ... and surprisingly enough both of my boys like it as well. They even enjoy diagramming sentences. I love the no nonsense methodical approach that Rod and Staff provides. We do about 2/3 of it orally and about 1/3 of it written.

Scripture study and memorization is woven throughout each of the subjects that are taught in HOD. Included in this guide is also a Hymn study for music and a devotional book called Little Pillows. Aaron has the Hymns on his ipod and can listen to it easily at some point each day. We also sing them together! 

I am doing things a little bit different this year for our read a-loud time. The suggested read a-louds for  story time are selections that come from specific genres of literature. They are wonderful book choices and I enjoyed them immensely when I took Martin through them. This time, however, I decided to get the extension readers that are offered for older students that may be going through Bigger and use those as read a-louds. They are scheduled in the back of the book and are extensions of the history lessons that they are learning each day. I thought it would be very interesting to read those books instead. I'll still use the storytime lesson plans in the Bigger guide as we go through the extension books.
I made 3 notebooks for Aaron to use this year. He will be starting History and Science notebooking, so I put together a separate notebook for each of those. I was able to download notebooking pages that other moms have made as they had children going through Bigger. They graciously uploaded the files they created to the HOD yahoo group. The 3rd notebook has a section for English worksheets, Vocabulary, and daily checklists. I got the daily checklists and vocabulary sheets from the HOD yahoo group as well. I am so thankful for other moms who have taken the time to share their hard work with the rest of us.

Aaron will be reading One Small Square: Seashore, One Small Square: Woods, A Pioneer Sampler, Science in Colonial America, and Thomas Edison for Science this year. He will be notebooking as he goes through the book as well as performing lots and lots of fun experiments!
We will be using Drawn into the Heart of Reading (DITHOR) for  reading this year. DITHOR is a very thorough study of the different genres of literature. It includes pre-reading activities, guided literature discussions, vocabulary lessons, and creative projects. Godly character lessons are weaved throughout all of the lessons. This curriculum can be used with any books. The books that I chose for Aaron are pictured below. Aaron is a very analytical kind of a child as well as being very perceptive. DITHOR is one of his favorite things about school.
By the Great Horn Spoon, Black Stallion, Snow Treasure, Tales from the Dust River Gulch, More Tales from the Dust River Gulch, Little Pilgrims Progress, Misty of Chincoteague, Scripture Sleuth, Gentle Ben, and Buffalo Bill. (the last one is not pictured because he is currently reading it)

This is the Level 2/3 workbook that Aaron will be working through this year along with the DITHOR guided teacher student discussions and analysis. The workbook provides many analytical processes that will help guide students to become independent thinkers. There are exercises in predicting, character analysis, character webs, themes, main ideas, and much more.

This is going to be an incredibly thorough and rich year of learning for Aaron. In my experience, 3rd grade is a huge skill building year. There is also a pretty significant leap in the work that is required of him. So, we are going to have some adjustment time ahead of us. My goal, though, is to keep everything fun, interesting, and joyful as we study all these amazing books! I am so thankful that I have such joyful learners!

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Park Day

The one thing that Rosalie wanted to do while we were in VA was go to the park near Papaw and Mamaw's house.

She was so happy when we finally took her there on our last day of the visit.

We did lots more while we were in VA - I just didn't very many pictures.  It was a great week !

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Day at Virginia Beach

While we were in VA last week, we decided to pack a lunch and spend the day at Virginia Beach.  Since my Dad is retired military, we were able to go to Dam Neck Beach on the Dam Neck Naval Base. It's south of the actual Virginia Beachfront. It's also much less crowded and super nice! We had such a wonderful day!

Rosalie didn't want to have much to do with the water, but she did enjoy playing in the sand!

I was able to get Jonathan in the water a little bit, but he spent most of his time playing in the sand.

Martin and Aaron spent the entire time in the water ... jumping the waves. It was so much fun for them! 
I found this dead crab along the shore line ... and spent quite some time just trying to catch it, but I finally did ... and we were able to turn every which way and study it! (It was dead and smelly!)

After a day at the beach ... it wasn't long before I looked in my mirror and saw 3 sleeping children! Martin didn't fall asleep ... but the others did!