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.