Saturday, February 17, 2018

2017-2018: Term 2 Enrichment Studies

We're just finishing up our second term of enrichments!  I was a little nervous about adding all this stuff in at the beginning of the year, but the kids really enjoy most of it!

Composer Study

Ludwig van Beethoven
I didn't use any extra books or try to turn it into a full study.  Right now, I just want it to be about appreciation, and maybe occasional recognition of a piece.  I typically stream through Alexa while we're cleaning, or sometimes over lunch if I'm not up to reading that day.

We did listen to a few Classics for Kids episodes, because I like that it gives a solid mix of biographical information and music appreciation, and we used a quote attributed to him for copywork occasionally.  For fun, we listened to Roll Over Beethoven!

Picture Study

Leonardo da Vinci
As soon as we did our first picture study this year the boys begged to study da Vinci so we could study the Mona Lisa!  I had him on the list anyway, because we were going to study him as a scientist (though that changed when we switched to AO), so I tried to read that book, but we didn't find it overly engaging, or necessary for the process.  Maybe in high school for an art history credit, but for now, it's like composers.  I'm going for appreciation and recognition.

We did occasionally look up an accompanying video on YouTube about a piece of art, since I just bought the extra art prints and not the full picture study portfolio.  We studied the most popular ones for one week, and then left some of the lesser-known-to-us prints up for two weeks.  We didn't necessarily study the second week (especially holiday weeks) but just reviewing the title and leaving it out for exposure.  We covered all eight prints again, and on the last week  I spread the prints out and called a title, and they chose to the correct one.  Quick and easy review!

Hymn Study
I had been following AO's recommendation of one hymn per month, but this was about the time I started choosing our own hymns.  During hymn time, I only play our monthly hymn and we look at the lyrics, but then I play various music in the background when I'm working in the kitchen or something, so they hear them all again anyway.

November - Amazing Grace
December - none (we practiced songs for Christmas program)
January - Nothing but the Blood of Jesus
February - I'll Fly Away

Folk Songs
I did decide to continue following AO'S Folk Song rotation for the most part.  I have no better method of choosing, and they offer a lot of variety!  Most of the kids usually enjoy the choices.

November - An Acre of Land
December - none (we practiced songs for Christmas program)
January - Funiculi Funicula (A Veggie Tales play on this song!)
February - Camptown Races (this was supposed to be March, but they heard it when I was previewing the next few months and begged to switch Feb. and March)

Shel Silverstein
A Light in the Attic
I have two of his books I picked up at a book sale, and just chose one for poet study.  The kids all enjoyed these.  It seems twaddly on the surface--they are wacky and ridiculous and impossible--which is what appeals to the kids!  At the same time, there were some nuances in there, some poems that really drove home some valid points about society, and I noticed the 11 year old commenting on some of them.  I might recommend him for kids who are against poetry for some reason, primarily because the humorous approach will appeal to the witty and sarcastic child, but I won't likely ever use him for a poet study again.

We didn't pick up where we left off with A Midsummer Night's Dream.  In fact, we took some time off, and it was near the end of  Term 2 when we started fresh with The Tempest.  Right now, I'm doing a retelling by Bruce Coville, and Emory LOVES it!  I want to try the full script next, maybe listening along on audio.  We'll see.

©2011-2018 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

A Peek into Our Homeschool: January 2018

Here I am, late again, posting our monthly wrap-up.  This is why I can't do a weekly one.  Oh well, I still want to get these memories down!  January is typically another busy month for us with birthdays and getting back into a routine with extracurriculars and our homeschool after the holiday break.

This post contains affiliate links.

In Our Homeschool 

Can I just say, I'm shocked, but pleasantly surprised with how well the kids have adjusted to the transition in curriculum and our new, somewhat "heavier" schedule.  I've found that we're doing so much more, but it's so much richer and we're getting more done in less time.  So Term 1 is finished, and we've moved into Term 2 (AO Years 2 and 4) and we'll be making a few adjustments and tweaks now that I know what works and what isn't the best fit.  I'll probably share a more detailed post about that though, because I could ramble quite a bit about books.

I'm also thrilled at how their attitudes have changed.  There is almost no procrastination or complaining anymore!  There are still some minor wrinkles to iron out, but I am overall very happy with the direction of things now!

CTCMath is still going very well, and I'm so glad we tried it out again!  This is another area where there is almost no complaining or whining anymore.  In fact, Elliott (who does well in math, but doesn't yet see he that could really excel in this area if he applied himself) used to put math off until the very end of the day, but now it's usually one of the first subjects he chooses.

Family Reads
Pinocchio, our lunchtime read, is FINALLY finished!  I will never, ever read this book aloud again.  We're continuing to read Shel Silverstein for poetry for a couple more weeks, and all four kids enjoy it.  It's silly and wild enough that even the 3 and 5 year old beg for me to read it every day!

Elliott finished reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe after taking a break over Christmas.  He's read a few short stories since then, but has requested something "science-y" for a free read, so I'm adjusting his free reads and giving him some non-fiction for awhile.  He's been reading about the moon/space and earthquakes.

Emory read James Herriot's Treasury for Children (a Year 1 science book) because he is all about the animals.  His new mission is to read all of the animal books on the list, so he read from an animal encyclopedia while we waited on Mr. Popper's Penguins (a Y2 free read) to arrive via Amazon Prime.   Of course, I found my copy on the bookshelf a week later.


Folk Song - Funiculi Funicula  This is a fun catchy tune!  We used the English version, but I did make a point to listen to the original Italian, and the Veggie Tales parody.

Hymn - Nothing But the Blood of Jesus

Picture/Composer Study - We're still studying Leonardo da Vinci and Ludwig van Beethoven for a few more weeks.

Extracurriculars - AWANA started back up, but then we had a couple of weather cancellations.  Co-op is back in session too, and it's nice to get back into routine.

Also in our Life
As I mentioned, January is a busy birthday month for us.  The girls turned 3 and 5 this year!  We had some movie nights, and they had a special birthday lunch with their grandparents, and then we had a small family party.  It was a pony party with unicorn cupcakes.

January also ushers in real winter where we live.  We get four seasons, but as far as winter goes, it can be all over the place.  We've had one solid snow that was worth the effort of snow gear, and it was really the first year that Eloise has really enjoyed playing in the snow!

Day 1 - still snowing

Day 2 - Warmer, sunnier and so much fun!

Then there's Buddy.  He is very strong-willed and stubborn, but very smart.  The kids are enjoying training him!

©2011-2018 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Putting the Heart Back into our Homeschool

When I was just starting out with this homeschooling thing, I was initially drawn to Charlotte Mason because it revolved around living books, which thrilled this book nerd!  Suddenly though, I realized there were so many other aspects to a Charlotte Mason education, subjects that I hadn't even thought of including.  Some of these things intimidated me.  Nature Study?  Picture Study?  Classical music?  I wasn't an outdoorsy girl and I didn't have much fine arts education outside of band.  We were hit and miss over the years, to say the least.  Then something snapped and things started falling into place.  We found our way back to Charlotte Mason, and I put my heart into bringing these subjects to the forefront of our homeschool and making our world more accessible through enrichment subjects.

This is the final week of the Virtual Homeschool Fair, hosted by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts and Minds, and the topic is Enriching Our Homeschool. So now I want to talk about all those other subjects.  The ones that are considered fun "electives" but maybe not essential.  Except, they are essential to a Charlotte Mason philosophy!  It is essential that we give our kids more than "just the facts" for an education. It is essential we give them access and connections to the world at large, through music and art and languages and people, so they can broaden their outlook on life. It is essential that we teach them how to look for the good and the beautiful in a world that is often dark and scary. It is essential that we teach them that there is always more out there, that learning is a lifelong process, and the more we seek, the more we will find.  It is essential that we teach them to care.

“The question is not, -- how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education -- but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?” - Charlotte Mason

One of the most straightforward ways to open up doors to the world is obviously through our curriculum, and since we have been doing a rich liberal arts education and adding in more of the riches this year, I have come to realize something.  I liked school, and did well.  I was a Straight A Student, and I was an avid reader.  What I "learned" pales in comparison to what my kids are gaining for their curriculum as whole, in large part because of their enrichment activities!

Picture Study - The idea (if following CM's methods) is to study about six pieces of art by an artist over a twelve week term, becoming intimately familiar with the artist.  My kids actually enjoy picture study far more than I expected, and I've found we cover all 8 prints in the Simply Charlotte Mason Picture Study Portfolios, and go back and spend a second week on a few.  This year we're studying Monet, da Vinci, and Reubans.

Handicrafts - I have been completely and utterly inconsistent with Handicrafts after the preschool years.  I do think that many forms of Art fall under Handicrafts, so at least the kids get some exposure through art.  Simply Charlotte Mason lists Handicrafts and Life Skills together, so the boys and I looked over it together recently.  At least they're learning Life Skills!  Elliott is learning typing (Life/Business Skill) and asked to learn Robotics.  Emory picked Pottery.  Eleanor received a loom for Christmas, so I plan to help her with that, while she and the 3 year old will also "make jewelry" with bead kits.  We shall see how these plans survive the term.

Drawing/Art - We've dabbled in art on and off over the years.  Sometimes we do some basic drawing instruction; sometimes we work with different mediums.  Since both of my school-aged kiddos are taking a weekly Art class at co-op, I'm not stressing over "lessons" at home.  I do think, however, that I will add Drawing to afternoon occupations for them to choose from, when I implement a new afternoon routine.

Composers - Sometimes we use Classics for Kids to learn a little about the composer, but right now my intention is just to get into the habit of listening regularly and building tolerance and appreciation through continued exposure.  This year are Mozart, Beethoven, and Undecided for third term.

Folk Songs - We are following AO's Folk Song rotation for this, and the kids usually enjoy the songs.    
Eleanor, especially, enjoys the music!

Hymns - I choose a new hymn each month, except in December we worked on Christmas play music.  This has been working well for us.

Instruments - We haven't quite gotten there yet.  Elliott has a little bit of exposure to guitar, and Emory wants to learn piano, but we need to find the right instructors for them.

Junior Choir  - One of the young women in our church has just volunteered to start a Junior Choir, so my three older kids (5, 8, 11) have just started it.  My 8 year old was so excited to tell me when we were doing this month's Hymn, that they were going to be singing it in choir!

Nature Study
Nature Study gives us firsthand experience with God's creations.  Observational skills are developed.  Appreciation of the natural beauty in the world is brought about with regular interactions.  I'm not the best at formal nature study and journaling, though we do try to enjoy outdoor play and informal nature walks regularly, and the kids are always looking for things to examine and study.  I've found that it is perfectly acceptable to check the Nature Study box on things like the Solar Eclipse, playing outside after the first big snow storm, or taking a walk through a new park.  Sometimes we do something a bit more intentional, but I try not to force things upon them, because their best discoveries are when they are left to explore on their own.

This is my first year adding Shakespeare.  My 8 year old in particular really seems to enjoy it!  We started A Midsummer Night's Dream first semester, but only got through a retelling of the play.  We're trying The Tempest this semester, and hopefully make it through a full play!  From the language to the cultural literacy, Shakespeare really does have a lot to offer to the mind, and I believe it's worth the effort.

I don't consider learning the Bible and going to church "enrichment" so much as necessary for our faith and relationship with Christ, but I also believe we have opportunities to connect with others and experience different activities through the church, which is why I included the under enrichments too.  My kids do Sunday School, Junior Church, AWANA, Vacation Bible School, now Junior Choir, and the many activities organized by these different groups - programs, plays, holiday celebrations, and more.  They memorize lines and songs and verses, work in small groups and teams, they go to cookouts and all the fellowship activities planned for the kids and for the church as a whole.  Fellowship with others in this way helps build friendships and develop mentors, which I do consider essential enrichment for their personal and spiritual lives.

"Mary" in the Christmas Program

I know co-ops aren't for every family, but they are a good fit for ours.  We get to shake up our "academic" week with some fun classes, the kids get to socialize and learn in a group environment under different teaching styles, and I get some Mom Socialization too.

5th Grade:  Gym, Art, Science
3rd Grade:  Art, Literature, Science
Pre-K:  Pre-K and Gym
3 Year Old:  3's Class (informal preschool style)

Other subjects/classes we've had over the years include Spanish, International Dance and Music, Sign Language, Portuguese, Beginner Guitar, Latin, Music Appreciation, LEGO, and more.  Being part of a co-op with parents who have diverse talents, backgrounds and passions is such a blessing!

Co-op offers more than just classes, though.  Sometimes we go early just so they can play basketball or trade Pokemon cards with friends.  Sometimes we have Pajama Day or Backwards Day, or some other wacky day, just like the public schooled kids.  We have Picture Days and Holiday Meals and Christmas Parties.  Sometimes we have special guests come and do music lessons, or dance part of a ballet performance, or speak about their comic book career.  We have tables set up to make cards for first responders, and we collect donations as a group for people in need.  We learn together, we celebrate together, we learn compassion and we form relationships with people like us--who are also quite different, and thus, opening our world just a little more each day.

Field Trips
One more way we enrich our homeschool experience is through Field Trips.  Sometimes we go on field trips with our co-op or other homeschoolers, and sometimes we go as a family.  We look for activities locally, and we look for opportunities when traveling.  We look for museums, aquariums, fairs, festivals, parks, historical sites, science centers, animal rescue/conservation centers, or really - anything fun, cultural, or educational.

The Wilds Field Trip 

As you can see, it is so easy to add a little at a time to open their world.  Foreign Languages are on my "should" list, but we haven't really gotten that one down consistently yet, though we've dabbled with Spanish over the years.  We aren't active in sports right now, but that's another activity we've done on and off over the years that not only gets children active, but puts them into competitive and team environments.  The opportunities are endless, but I have noticed that as I add one new thing, it gets easier to add the next new thing.  I've also noticed, that the more they are exposed to, the more connections they make and the more they follow their own little rabbit trails to find out about something new.  I'm convinced that taking a few extra minutes each day to add in an enrichment subject, or to take a day and go to class or take a field trip is what makes homeschooling "come alive" now!

Week 1 - 5 Reasons We Love Homeschooling (The Reason We Love to Homeschool)
Week 2 - How Charlotte Mason Transformed Our Homeschool (Our Method of Homeschooling)
Week 3 - Reflections of a Curriculum Junkie (Our Homeschool Curriculum)
Week 4 - Putting the Heart Back into our Homeschool (Enriching Our Learning)

This is the final week of the 7th Virtual Homeschool Fair. Our topic is: Enriching Our Learning.
Note: All posts will be live after 8 am EST on Monday, Jan. 29th.

Celebrating 7 Years of Homeschool Support & Encouragement by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
All of the Extras by Christy Schaefer @ Unexpected Homeschool
Learning outside of the box by Dana @ Life Led Homeschool
Adding in the Fun by Michele @Family, Faith and Fridays
The Electives We Use in Our Homeschool by Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool
The Fun Parts of Homeschooling by Annette @ A Net in Time
How we add in the fun stuff. by Kim @ Good Sweet Love
Running - for fitness & fun by Lizzy @ Peaches@Home
Adding in the Extras by Jen @ A Helping Hand Homeschool
What About the Fun Stuff? by Laura @ Four Little Penguins
And the Learning Goes On, And On, And On by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens
Let's See What's Out There! (Electives and Extras) by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break

©2011-2018 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.