Monday, November 15, 2010

changing my mind again!

So anyone who has read this blog knows that we have already changed our curriculum from what we initially started with. We went from Tapestry of Grace to My Father's World. Surprise surprise...we are changing it up again. I do love the simplicity of My Father's World. I love how it's set up for two days on, two days off. I love how they have an entire day set up for "exploration. MFW was what I needed to get started. It told me what to say, how to do things etc. LOVE that! But I started feeling like it just wasn't enough for my kids. I longed for history; which MFW does not have at this level. I was already beefing it up for Alexis (since I was using a 1st grade curric), but I started feeling like it wasn't enough for Haylee either. Haylee is rather advanced for a 1st grader...shes already reading where Alexis was at the end of 1st grade. When I first started MFW I loved loved that they were learning a new Proverb every week. But to be honest, I got really tired of the proverbs and I could tell my kids were too. The last two weeks I just used things I found online. And I started to realize that I can do this without ONE curric! I can make up my own based on the needs of MY kids.

We are two months (give or take) into homeschooling now and I really am feeling confident about this journey now! I have gotten to really now my kids learning abilities---what works and what doesn't. I really longed to teach them history. So...I prayed about it for about a week. And God brought me full circle...right back to Tapestry of Grace. What seemed like SO MUCH before...didn't feel like such a challenge. We will now be using Tapestry of Grace again!

Today was our first day using TOG and the kids LOVED it! We are starting out with Ancient Egypt (which I LOOOOOOVE!!!!). Today we read:

The Nile River by Allan Fowler
This is a great little book! Filled with real-life photos of the Nile. It talks about where the Nile starts and finishes and all the places along the way!

We also read:
Mummies, Pyramids and Pharaohs: A book about Ancient Egypt by Gail Gibbons

This book is awesome!! HIGHLY recommend this one!!

TOG has printable maps, so I gave each kid (yes, Logan got one too!) a blank map of Ancient Egypt, Ancient Africa and the World map. Alexis and Haylee filled in the map of Ancient Egypt (Med. Sea, Nile Delta, Nile River, Red Sea, The Black Lands (Kemet) and the Red Lands). We discussed how important the Nile Was to the Egyptians-how it was their life-blood. We also briefly talked about Moses and how Moses grew up in Ancient Egypt. The kids recently watched The Prince of Egypt...I think this really helped the put it all together in their heads.

This should be a fun week! We will be making a salt map of Egypt and learning about land formations and bodies of water. We will talk more about the Egyptians and Moses. I am hoping to have the girls dress up like an Egyptian Queen (think Cleopatra!!), maybe make some jewelry and a paddle doll like the children used to play with! It's going to be a busy week but so much to look forward to!

We are also moving past Proverbs. This weeks verse is my FAVORITE verse: Jeremiah 29:11. We actually started it last thursday. Lex has it memorized already!

On a slightly different is my proud homeschool mama moment of the week (and yes, I know the week just started! lol!)

The girls have been struggling a little bit with skip counting. It's been a little bit of an issue and I have been trying to figure out what I can do to make it finally CLICK! And make it fun for them! Last night I came across a few songs on itunes. The artist is Have Fun Teaching. The songs are a tad on the..ummmm...annoying side, but VERY catchy. So I figured...why not! Today in their math books we were skip counting by 4's. So I played the song for them. They listened, they sang along. Then I asked them to try it without the song. And they GOT IT! I got tears in my eyes today because I was SOOOOO proud of them! Moments like that remind me of why we chose to homeschool. Had they been in public school, the class would have moved on, regardless of if all the kids truly understood or not. And kids...MY kids could have been left behind. But I was able to take the extra time and help the really understand it. They loved the songs! And I have heard them singing it even after "class" was over!

SOOOOOO proud of my kids!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thankful tree with Grandma B

(yes, the title rhymes...and it's a little with it! lol) :)

When we started homeschooling, my parents were VERY supportive! So much so that my mom wanted to help out too! She comes once or twice a month and does art with the kids. We do Art History, as well as just fun crafts. I love it! It's learning, but the kids are also growing even closer to their Grandma. Growing up, I wasn't close to either of my Grandparents so knowing my kids have a real relationship with my parents really warms my heart!y

Today we made a Thankful Tree. From now until Thanksgiving we will write down things we are thankful for and hang it on the tree. On thanksgiving we'll take the leaves down and read all of them.

Here is how we made it:

Our "tree" is acutally from my herb garden...thats what happens to large leaf basil when you stop cutting it back! lol! :)

Next the kids added dirt to a canning jar.

Insert "tree"

For the leaves you can use construction paper, or craft leaves. we started out using paper until I remembered we have some craft leaves in the "fall decor" box!

Ask kids what they are thankful for, write it on a leaf.

Add a hole to the bottom of the leaf.

Use wire, or yarn or string to attach leaf to tree.

I am really loving this! And already thinking how I can carry this over to each season!

What mommy is thankful for:

Friday, November 5, 2010

Broken dreams or shifted focus?

(this post somehow got deleted so I am reposting it!)

I read this last night and it totally hit home for me with my photography business:

"I eventually realized that God was no longer blessing my acting career because He wanted me to be the one to raise my children HE has so graciously, and quickly, given us. I was to find HIS blessings at home"

This is from Lisa Whelchel's book "So you're thinking about homeschooling" (Lisa Whelchel was Blair Warner from Fact of Life). I read that sentence over and over and over last night. And it surprisingly brought tears to my eyes. It totally made sense to me! I have been trying so hard to figure out why suddenly, I wasn't getting many clients. Why it felt as if I couldn't even GIVE away a session. I began to wonder why God blessed me with talent, but wasn't blessing the path I was heading with it.

Our Pastor is doing an 8-week study on Broken Dreams. It's all based on Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God" How our "lower dreams" may not fit into God's Higher plan for our life. We all have been there...thinking we have it figured out, where we are suppose to go and what we are suppose to do "when we grow up". I truly felt that I was going to have a successful Photography Business. And I was really excited and looking forward to it. I started to get clients, set up a homes studio and then suddenly...things slowed almost to a halt! Around the same time I felt a huge pull in my heart to homeschool. This is something I said "I could never do" but suddenly felt a longing to do it!

We love homeschooling. LOVE LOVE LOVE it! I know that God called me to do this for my family. It's not easy, and there are days I want to pull my hair out! But I would not consider putting them back in public school even if someone paid me. For our family homeschooling works! I see my kids growing closer to each other, I see them maturing. We are bonding more and more every day! I love seeing them finally "get" what we have been talking about. In those moments, I see this sparkle in their eyes! And that is something I would have missed if they would have been in traditional school.

Here is something I want to throw out to you (any one who is actually reading this blog of mine)...We teach our kids to eat, crawl, use the potty, tie their shoes, teach them to talk...why is it that as parents we truly think "I can't homeschool my kids! I could never teach them". We teach our kids every day. Why is it that when they hit age 5, we believe that it's best to send them away and have someone else do the teaching from now on. Starting in kindergarten now our kids are away from home for 8 hours a day monday-friday. School teachers are getting the "best" of our kids. When they (our kids) come home, tired, hungry, over-loaded...we get the leftovers. I truly think thats why many parents think "I could never homeschool! I don't have the patience!"

Okay, I am kind of going off on a bunny trail (as Pastor Doug calls it!). Back to the quote! lol! After reading it last night I realized that yes, God has given me this talent for photography, but more importantly, he's given me four beautiful children. And that is where my true "calling" is. It's them. It's to teach them. To not only teach them the three "R's", but to teach them about God, and real life. I do not believe that God has closed the door on my Photography. He has simply shifted my focus to what matters most: My Family.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

exploration day with daddy

One of the great things about our curriculum is that there is an entire day set up for exploring! Our exploration days fall on the day Ben usually has off work! This worked great for our lesson on trees...seeing as daddy knows A LOT about trees! :) Ben took over this lesson and I got to sit back and watch (and take pictures!) The kids had a great time!

We learned that you can tell how old a tree is by counting the rings



Yes, even at home we raise our hand! :)


Talking about the veins in the leaf


Daddy talking about the bark on the trees


Lex and Haylee doing their tree rubbings for our Tree Book we made.


Daddy helping put the book together


Logan made one too! :)




Friday, September 24, 2010

On the 12th day of homeschool my kiddos said to me....

We officially have 12 days under our belt! There have been good days and bad days but we have survived! Today started out as one of those "bad" days! I had to tell the kids..."mommy needs a timeout. Sit here and I will be right back...don't talk. Just sit quietly". I grabbed my coffee and headed to a different room! Closed my eyes, finished my coffee in peace and quiet and then headed back to the kitchen to finish the lessons. May sound crazy, but you gotta do whatcha gotta do! lol! After my mommy-time out, the day got better! We are "walking" thru Proverbs this year. The kids are picking up the memory verses really quickly and understanding what they mean. I am seeing so much growth in them both!

Our curriculum is set up to have an exploration day (can't remember if I mentioned that already!). We have our exploration day on Wednesdays. Works out perfect because daddy's day off is that day too! The curriculum suggest you spend the majority of the day outside enjoying God's Creation. This past Wednesday was the PERFECT day to do just that! We did our math lesson and phonics, which I think is important to do every day. But the rest of the day we spent just being together as a family. The kids spent some time digging in the dirt with Ben planting some beautiful hostas. Lex also helped me make some banana bread. My friend Jamie says "Theres a learning opportunity in everything" and she is so right! While making the bread we doubled the recipe, so I got to talk to Lexie about fractions (1 1/2 + 1 1/2= 3).

Today Haylee said to me "mommy, you are the best teacher in the whole world!". Warms my heart! Makes the "bad days" worth it!

*we have had some really cool science lessons on ants and worms already. Once I find the cord for my camera I will upload those photos and blog about those!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Change and puddle Jumping

We officially have a week of homeschooling under our belt! And there have been changes already. Originally we were going to us Tapestry of Grace. But after starting it, I realized it was just too much for the kids at this age. And being new at homeschooling, too much for mom too! It was taking WAY too much time for the lesson planning! And I was starting to get very overwhelmed! Not a good way to start! In talking with my friend Bri, I made a decision to change our curriculum to My Father's World. It's set up much better (at least at this point) then TOG. Every day is set up for me. And it's a full curriculum. We are still using Horizon Math however next year I think we will switch to Math-U See. We were giving some Math-U See manipulatives and the girls have really enjoyed using them during our lessons.

It's been a little challenging to teach with Logan, but I have found that if I give him 15 minutes with JUST mom playing cars, or building blocks between lessons with the girls he does much better! He really enjoys our morning routine...praying, singing, learning about the weather and Bible time.

Today we did our exploration day. We went outside and went on a nature hike and looked for worms. It had rained this morning, so I thought for SURE there would be worms...surprisingly...not worms! The kids did find some slugs and a snail! After our hike we came inside and wrote in our nature journals about what they saw, felt and heard outside.

We are currently reading The BFG by Roald Dahl. It's about a little girl thats captured by a Giant in the middle of the night. She soon finds out that that he is a friendly giant---the only Giant in Giant country that does not eat "human beans". The little girl (Sophie) and the BFG decide to come up with a plan to rid the world of the "human bean" eating giants forever! It's a great book! And the girls are loving it!

Tomorrow my mom is coming over to teach the kids art! She was the Art Lady at Lansing Christian for awhile. She is really excited to have a part in our homeschooling journey and the kids are really looking forward to it as well!

We are all loving homeschooling! And am so thankful that God led our family in this direction!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

And so we begin...

Yesterday marked the very first day of our new adventure...homeschooling! I have to tell you...last week I was getting very nervous! Wondering if I could do this! Especially with two little ones in tow. I prayed prayed prayed God would bless our first day. Our God is so faithful! He did that and more! Our first day was amazing! We started the day off at 8am. Kids had breakfast and their chores. 9 am we started school. We are using Tapestry of Grace this year. I decided not to follow their schedule but to start from Genesis. The kids loved the story of Creation. We didn't read it from the Bible, but from a worksheet I had. Then they spent some time writing in their journal about how they can help take care of what God created and drew a picture as well. Next we moved to Math for Lexie and Phonics for Haylee. We were given a free Hooked on Phonics Kit, and that is what both girls will be using this year. Haylee is starting with level one. After each reader, there are questions for them to answer about the story. Once each kid was done, the swapped. Meanwhile I did some puzzles with Logan and spent some one-on-one time with him. When both girls were done with Phonics and Math we did a craft...made a mini book on creation. After that the kids went outside and played while I made lunch. From there we did naptime for Logan and an hour of "me time" for the girls...this is when they read books quietly and I have MY time (I know all you mamas out there understand that!!). While Logan was still asleep I started our first read-aloud book with the girls. We are reading the Big Friendly Giant (The BFG). I think this is possibly one of my favorites times of the day. Snuggling up with my girls and reading to them! Now...some of you may be wondering where Alayna was this whole time... part of the morning she was strapped into my Moby wrap. The rest...she slept! I think she must be going thru a growth spurt b/c she pretty much slept all day (waking to feed of course! lol!). Once Logan was up we took a trip to the Library.

When Ben got home the kids we SOOOOOO excited to show him and tell him about the things we did and learned! After dinner we all snuggled on the couch and watched Wipeout. And then it was off to bed!

Today was pretty much the same routine. I did add computer time in however. Next week our days will be much fuller as we will be adding the Tapestry of Grace Curriculum which covers history, literature, geography, church history/Bible, writing and arts/activities. I am adding spelling words and weekly Bible Memory verse. They actually started the memory verse this week. Philipians 2:14 "Do everything with complaining or arguing". Seemed like the perfect verse to start with!! :) We will be adding Art History every other week too. My mom used to teach it when I was in elementary school and she has offered to come out here and teach my kids. How fun, right?! Lots of fun stuff ahead for the school year!

I have to tell you...I truly enjoyed and AM enjoying homeschooling! I know there will be days I want to pull my hair out and run and hide but I truly believe in this. God has called me to this and he will enable me thru...especially on the hard days! For those of you who think "I could NEVER do that" can. I said that about a year ago...and now look at me!

I originally started this blog to I am switching it up to talk about our homeschool journey. The good, the bad and the in between! I hope that I inspire you! If I can do this...YOU can do this!!