Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Curriculum Choices for 1st grade and Pre-K

I have thrown Rosalie into our crazy homeschooling schedule this year for several reasons. First, she is able to identify all of the letters both capital and lowercase, she is able to write most of them, and she is so enthusiastic about being a student in the Holland School! Secondly, it's easier for me to include her than to hold her off for one more year. Thirdly, by starting her now, I am able to combine her with Jonathan on History, Bible, Science, and other activities making it easier for me to implement our family schedule. So, we are calling it Pre-K and getting this show on the road. If at any point she shows signs of not being able to keep up with the work, we will slow it way down and re-evaluate. She will be doing the orange Handwriting Without Tears workbook, Singapore earlybird Mathematics, and a couple of Rod and Staff workbooks that will help her with her fine motor skills. (tracing, cutting, pasting, etc.)

Jonathan will be doing the yellow Handwriting Without Tears workbook,  Singapore Primary Mathematics Textbooks and Workbooks 1A and 1B, and a couple of Rod and Staff workbooks that will continue to work on his fine motor skills.

I am using the Heart of Dakota's Little Hearts for His Glory curriculum guide this year with both Jonathan and Rosalie. So, they are combined on all the history, science, Bible, and read a-louds. However, as you saw above, they have different levels of handwriting, reading, and math.  
History -
History for Little Pilgrims, 101 Favorite Bible Stories, History Stories for Children
Science - The World God Made
Bible - The children work on a memory verse each week and have Devotions scheduled throughout the week using Devotions for the Children's Hour
Reading - The Reading Lesson pictured above is the reading curriculum that they are both using, however Jonathan is almost finished with the book while Rosalie is just starting. Once Jonathan finishes The Reading Lesson he will begin reading a large set of emerging readers so that he can continue to practice his reading skills. I did not take a picture of those readers. Even though he hasn't finished The Reading Lesson, he has already started reading the first book in the Emerging Readers set. You may have noticed that the Heart of Dakota Beyond Little Hearts For His Glory is also pictured above. I am using that guide to follow the hands on math plans, the light grammar plans, and the spelling plans with Jonathan. As much as he has struggled in learning how to read, I am surprised at how much he LOVES spelling!

My highest priority for Kindergarten and 1st grade is not reading, writing, or math, it is teaching the children how to listen well to read a-louds, and be able to retell/narrate back to me what they heard. This is a pretty difficult skill to learn! Rosalie is not getting the gentle introduction to it that the others got since I have combined her with Jonathan, however, she is getting the idea from listening to Jonathan retell the readings back to me. She is going to learn a lot from him this year. She is already a pretty good listener and probably doesn't need as gentle an introduction to it that Jonathan needed. I started slowly with Jonathan using books that were smaller and had pictures, and eventually ended the year reading chapter books to him ... and he was able to narrate back to me in excellent detail. I love having the two of them together this year. They are already used to doing everything together anyway that it seems perfectly natural for them to do school together too.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Curriculum Choices for 4th grade

I am finally ready to start posting about curriculum choices for the 2013-2014 school year! I am going to start with the choices that I made for Aaron's 4th grade year. First, I use Heart of Dakota. Within Heart of Dakota, there are lots of choices that we can make to tailor it to each specific child's needs. The Basics are as follows:
Math:  Singapore Math 4A and 4B
English: Rod and Staff Grammar English 4, Building With Diligence
Dictation: Level 4
Poetry/Creative Writing: Poetry of Robert Louis Stevenson with Creative Writing Assignments once each week that correspond to the poem of the week.
Commonplace Book: This is a composition book in which he copies scriptures, quotes, and poetry

This is a daily schedule checklist that we follow each day. It's nice to be able to check things off as we go.

In the appendix of each Heart of Dakota guide is several levels of dictation. I copied Level 4 and put the pages in page protectors and placed them in his basics binder for easier access.

Another very talented Heart of Dakota Mom made some wonderful poetry notebooking pages that have each of the creative writing assignments included as well as the poems. It is so convenient! I printed the file out and put them in his basics notebook for easy access.

Vocabulary:  Another HOD Mom made these wonderful vocabulary sheets and I printed a bunch of them out and he has Vocabulary that words that he has to look up, define, write a synonym and antonym, write a sentence using the word, and draw a picture. He does vocabulary once each week and the words are almost always words from his History readings.

Bible: We will be studying and memorizing several passages from the book of Psalms this year. I was also able to print these wonderful Bible cards that another Mom provided, so that he can easily study the scripture and memorize them each week.

Science: One Small Square: Arctic Tundra, One Small Square: Cactus Desert, The Great Dinosaur Mystery, Find the Constellations, One Small Square: Coral Reef, Columbus, Leonardo da Vinci, Pasteur's Fight Against Microbes, and Albert Einstein
Science is completely independent this year. He reads a specific portion from one of his books, and then has a notebooking assignment, an experiement, or an oral narration that he has to complete. Again, I was able to download some wonderful notebooking pages that another HOD Mom put together and provided for other Mom's. This year I printed them on card stock and we are so happy with how they turned out! A couple of the pages are pictured below:

In the above picture, is the Preparing Hearts for His Gory guide book, and the History Spine. This curriculum is biblically centered and history based. Even the Science corresponds well with what we are doing with History. The history books we will read together this year are:
A Child's History of the World, Life in the Great Ice Age, Hero Tales, and Grandpa's Box
I prefer to wait until around the 4th grade to study Ancient History because of the difficult topics that come with early civilization. I absolutely loved reading these books with Martin and am already enjoying it again with Aaron. Along with reading about History, Aaron has history notebooking assignments, oral narration, projects, and written narration.

Independent History: This is new this year. The books above are more books about history that will enhance and dig a little deeper than his main history spine. He reads all of these books independently and completes notebooking assignments along with reading them.

You thought we were done with history?? Not quite! These are the History read a-loud storytime titles. We will read some of these together and he will read some of these independently. They are meant to be read aloud - and I will try to do that, but it depends on the time. The books in this set are meant to bring each of the time periods that we study - alive. They are mostly composed of historical fiction books. So, the reader gains an excellent idea of what was going on during that time period - but the actual story is fiction. They are all excellent books!

Music:  For music this year, Aaron will be learning the Clarinet. I started teaching him a few weeks ago and he has already taken off with it. It seems to come very easily to him. He will be taking beginner band twice a week with CCHbands.

The curriculum guide is written to complete 5 days worth of work in 4 days keeping the 5th day open for co-ops, appointments, and field trips. So far, Aaron has been getting all of his work done within the 4 days. However, we always have the option of finishing any work that we don't get done on the 5th day.

I have been using Heart of Dakota for 4 years now and I love it more every year.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Age Appropriate Chores

One of the reasons that our last school year was hard for me - was  because I was so overwhelmed with the insurmountable to do list that I had each and every day. So many of my hours each day are spent schooling the children. Now that all of them are doing school, I spend a dedicated 5 hours of school each day, going back and forth between the 4 children. So, I developed a chore chart with age appropriate chores for each child. I put the chore chart in a clear dry eraser folder, so that after the children complete the chore they can check it off the list.

They all seem to be a little like me in that they enjoy checking things off the list.
It has already made a huge difference in how our day goes. I don't feel as rushed to get everything done nor do I feel as tired. The children are learning important life skills and responsibility. Win-Win.  So far, they are all responding well to the new responsibility - even though the list may seem extensive the chores are spread out throughout the entire weeks, so it never takes them very long to complete each task. With 4 people helping out around the house it sure does make my day easier!

They have a list of chores to complete each day with some of those repeating and others are once or twice a week type chores.

The age appropriate chores are as follows:

Rosalie - (4 years)  make bed, brush teeth, get dressed, brush hair, clean room, clear table after supper, clean table, set table, clean under bed, tidy up the shoe shelf in the garage, clean baseboards

Jonathan - (6 years) - make bed, brush teeth, get dressed, sweep floor in kitchen and living room, unload dishwasher, clean baseboards, put laundry away, set table, collect and empty trash cans on trash day, clear table

Aaron - (8 years) make bed, brush teeth, get dressed, clean the trash can, load dishes in dishwasher after lunch, load dishes in dishwasher after supper, unload dishwasher, wipe down toilets, wipe down bathroom counters, collect and organize recycle bin and take to the curb on trash day, laundry - wash Rosalie's and his clothes, put them in dryer, fold, and put away, dust end tables and piano, vacuum as needed

Martin - (11 years) - make bed, brush teeth, get dressed, unload dishwasher, wipe down toilets, wipe down counters in bathrooms, check trash daily and take out as needed, mop floor, load lunch and supper dishes in the dishwasher, laundry - (his and Jonathan's) wash, dry, fold, and put away, vacuum the living room rug, vacuum the couch and under the couch, vacuum the stairs, vacuum other carpeted rooms,

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Jonathan - August 2013

What can I possibly say about this kid that could even come close to describing him accurately?
He's strong willed
Must be in control
Longs to be in charge
Understands on a deep level that he has parameters and that he must obey
But struggles on a deep level with not being in charge of those parameters

He is the child that I will put in time out and tell him that his time out does not start until he stops crying. He understands that completely, but doesn't want to stop crying because I suggested it and he wants to be in charge of when he stops crying. He finally stops crying. I tell him time out is beginning now. I let a few minutes go by and tell him that he can get out of time out. He stays in time out. Why? Because he wants to be in charge of when he gets out of time out. He wants that to be his decision.I love this boy to the moon and back. He has so much spirit. He has some amazing God given, very natural leadership skills that I pray will be used for His glory. I pray that Jonathan will devote his life to following after the Lord as fervently as he plays his soldier games right now. As long as Jonathan will submit to God's leadership, I believe that Jonathan will one day get to be that leader that he longs to be... one day he will get to be in charge like he wants to be. I tell him all the time that in order for him to be an excellent leader then he needs to learn how to be an excellent follower. 

I have to share some pictures that I took of my Jonathan that so perfectly captures what I tried to describe above:

I don't want to have my picture taken!

Come on Jonathan, just smile so we can get this over with!! Can you see that he is putting his fingers on his mouth to keep himself from smiling? Crazy kid!

Not going to smile! (he was still trying hard not to smile) So, I gave up. I told him to forget about it and that we would just work on our lessons.

After about an hour...once he had done most of his lessons for the day. He picked up the sign and told me that he was ready to have his picture taken. (his decision - not mine)

Wow. I could use an instruction manuel for this child ... anyone have one?

Monday, August 12, 2013

The First Day of the 2013-2014 School Year

We started our school year on Monday, August 6, 2013.
Rosalie started Pre-K. She is doing history, science, Bible, art, and music with Jonathan and she does handwriting, reading, and math on her own. She LOVES doing school with the big kids!

Aaron started 4th grade! He is enjoying all of the independence that comes with 4th grade and is doing a great job with it so far. We start school at 7:50 each morning. We have devotions and prayer for 10 minutes and then Martin and Aaron work on Science and Music from 8:00 - 9:00. Martin practices trumpet while Aaron does his Science independently. Aaron practices clarinet while Martin does his Science independently. (I don't think that I mentioned that Aaron is playing the clarinet now!! I taught him some fundamentals to get him going and he has taken off with it! He will be in the beginner band this year) While they are doing Science and Music, I work with Rosalie and Jonathan on all of their lessons. 

Jonathan started the 1st grade. He is doing really well so far! He has already finished about 30% of his first grade math book since we worked on it over the summer. He really enjoys math and I am trying to capitalize on that! His reading has come a long way and he is discovering now that he can read other books than just his reading curriculum book. So, I expect that it will really take off in the next year. He has a much better attitude about it this year, which makes it so much easier on me! He is adapting well to having Rosalie with him during his lessons, although sometimes he gets frustrated that she is so quick to answer the questions. I have to be super diligent about saying the name of the child that I want to answer the question. I do not desire for their to be any sort of competition between those two.  
Martin started the 6th grade! (he was not at all interested in having his picture taken) I have a middle schooler! It's so hard to believe.  He and I both are excited about the content of his curriculum this year. He will be studying the time period of history from the Resurrection to the Reformation. So far, we are both enjoying the history so much! We have an excellent routine and schedule going this year that has contributed to one of the best first week of school I have ever had. I was way too unstructured for my liking and my personality last year. So, I have tightened things up a great deal and we are being very careful to follow the schedule and stay on task. It's working out well for all of us. A new thing that I have instituted this year is that they all have to be out of bed and downstairs by 7:00AM. They have 50 minutes to eat breakfast, get dressed, and brush their teeth. School starts at 7:50 and they are not permitted to be late. Rigid? Perhaps. However, at some point these kiddos need to understand that the rest of the world operates by a clock and that being on time is an absolute necessary skill to have. So, Martin sets the alarm and they all wake up and start their day. Rich and I drink our coffee together and we all get an early start to the day. Perfection. 

Our first day of the school year celebration included a dinner of roasted hot dogs, potato chips, and S'mores. FUN! 

We are all glad to be back in the school routine. No doubt we will have good days and bad days, but so far we have all enjoyed the structure that we were lacking last year. I am checklist kind of a girl - and I am in a very happy place when we are all checking off our lists!

I plan to put up posts very soon on what each child is doing and my curriculum choices for the year. I will also be sharing about our new chore system. I am thrilled at how productive we are all being and the excellent training in life skills the children are gaining!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Oh Yes I Did!

Last week, Rich went out of town for a few days. I had some errands that I had to run, so we were out all afternoon before we had to go to our church small group that night. I told the children that I would take them somewhere for supper and that it would be the silliest supper they have ever had. I told them that it was so silly that they were going to want to take my temperature when we got there.

I took them to SweetFrog Yogurt shop and we had frozen yogurt for supper. Yes. I did that. Crazy. I know! Sometimes you just gotta have dessert for supper. So, we did.

We are having a fun summer.

Not ready for it to end.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Go Play Outside Now

We love this place! It's called Go Play Outside Now and we had so much fun! We went with a group of good friends and had a blast! 

They have a beach area with pools of water and tons of water guns and barriers for fun water gun battles. They have 2 big slides and they hook one of the slides up with water and make an incredibly fun water slide!

Rosalie wouldn't go down the waterside, but she had fun going down the slide without the water.

The chickens came begging for some lunch.

They also have a huge area set up for laser tag. They had so much fun playing laser tag! 

If you haven't had the chance to visit this great place. You'll have to make your way down there. We were there for more than 5 hours and my children still didn't want to leave when it was time to go!

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Golf Club to the Head

While we were in Kentucky, my Uncle Jeff took my boys outside to practice golfing in the front yard. They were using real golf clubs with small plastic balls. Jeff went to get something out of the garage and while he was gone ... Aaron swung the golf club right as Jonathan was walking toward him. Smack. The golf club made contact with Jonathan's head.
(I was combing the back yard for plantain to put on a bee sting for one of Mackenzie's friends when this happened)
I get back inside and someone told me that one of my boys was bleeding. Great.
I ran outside and found Jonathan crying and blood pouring out of his head and Aaron was sobbing very loudly.
I immediately started telling Aaron to stop crying because it wasn't helping Jonathan. To which Aaron replied, "But I didn't mean to hurt him!" Okay, clearly, I needed to be more compassionate.

My cousin put a wet towel and an ice pack on Jonathan's head to stop the bleeding, and I hugged Jonathan and told him it was going to be okay. My cousin said a couple of times that he thought he would need stitches, but from what I saw, I thought he'd be fine without them.

My aunt called her next door neighbor, who is a nurse, and asked her to come over and look at the wound for me. She came and confirmed that he didn't need stitches. The bleeding finally stopped and after about 20 minutes of watching Scooby Doo and relaxing while getting lots of attention ... he perked back up and was back to normal Jonathan. Whew! So glad we avoided the emergency room on this trip!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Trip to Kentucky

My Mom grew up in the beautiful Northeastern mountainous part of Kentucky.  I grew up spending every vacation my Dad ever got traveling to Kentucky to visit all of my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Since I got married and moved away from all of our family, I've only been to Kentucky a couple of times. Understandably, whenever Rich and I have the chance to travel, we travel to where our parents are. The older our children get, the harder it is to go away. So, my children have grown up not knowing their extended family. My Mom has been wanting us to go back to KY with her for a long time...and we finally made it happen!! We spent 4 days visiting with extended family...and it was an AMAZING 4 days! We had such a great time! We stayed with my Aunt Linda and Uncle Jeff. (My Mom's sister. She is 13 years younger than my Mom and only 9 years older than me) She has 3 teenage daughters that are 14, 16, and 19. Mariah, Madison, and Mackenzie were incredibly with my 4 kiddos. From the time we got there until the time we left they paid so much attention to my children that all four of them did NOT want to leave! The girls played with them in the pool, taught them card games, gave them their phones so that they could play games on their phones, and so much more!

Mariah works at a yogurt shop and we had the opportunity to visit Mariah at work and enjoy some frozen yogurt. My children had never gone to a frozen yogurt shop, so this was a brand new experience for them and they could not believe the buffet of toppings that they had to choose from to put on their frozen yogurt! 

On one of the nights that we were there, Linda invited the entire extended family to come over for a cookout. My children had no idea they had so many cousins! It was such a blessing for me to see all of my cousins and get to meet their sweet children! It was so much fun to watch the huge group of cousins play cards and spend time with each other. 

The children enjoyed swimming in my aunt's pool each day. Jonathan went from not being able to swim at the beginning of the summer to becoming a very good swimmer! He swims under water, jumps in, and recently showed me that he can do 3 flips under water without coming up for air! This is the same boy that still didn't believe that arm floaties would keep him from sinking just last summer. This is the same boy that screamed like a girl when a drop of water touched his face last summer. We've come a long way.

I love how all 4 of my children are bombarding my aunt while she tries to relax on a float.

We were so excited to go spend a few hours with my great aunt and uncle. I can't remember the last time I got to see them! Going to see Aunt Ginny and Uncle Gay was one of my most favorite things to do growing up. They are still as fun as they always were and I'm so grateful that my children got to meet them. They still grow a huge garden each year and we were able to eat some fresh veggies from their garden while we were there. While we were chatting Jonathan starting melting down with tears because he was hungry. So I asked my aunt if she had a tomato. Jonathan loves tomatoes. She cut up a tomato for him and he ate every bite! She also sent him home with one. He was one happy little boy! I'm so thankful that we were able to spend those few days visiting family. My children were already asking me when we were going to come back before we even left. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Fourth of July in PA

 After we went to Runner's Camp. We began to prepare for our annual trip to PA, for the fourth of July! I am finding that these trips are so much easier than they used to be! No diapers to change, no nap schedules to work around ... and all the children are pretty self sufficient in the pool. 

My sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Lisa and MJ. 

My nephew, Ryan. He will be 16 this year! They were playing a frisbee game. Fun times!

Great action shot of Rich playing the frisbee game. (can't remember what it's called)

Our cousin, Alan.

Love this shot of Martin. Can't believe he's 11! 

My father-in-law ...

and mother-in-law...

and Rich's aunt and uncle Bill and Debbie.

...and a little ham.

Uncle M.J. and the children

Love this shot of Rich and his sister, Lisa. (and how Jonathan snuck into the picture somehow!)

And the Fourth of July just would not be complete without Dilly Bars.

Little girl has Daddy wrapped around her little finger. True story.

We also were so thankful to be able to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Rich's parents!

Love this sweet shot f Ryan playing with Rosalie.

My now 12 year old niece, Nicole!