Saturday, December 30, 2017

A Peek into our Homeschool: December 2017

December was a busy month, as always!

Elliott's birthday - he is 11 now, and this boy is growing up before my eyes.

Some of the special holiday activities this month included what felt like a billion movie nights and Christmas movies.  Pajama Day at co-op included a story and a special preview of the local dance school's "Christmas in Narnia" program, hot chocolate, cookies, pizza and making ornaments.  We made Christmas cookies and Chex Mix and we went to see the Winter Wonderland lights.

School was pretty standard - We kept up with our AO readings, math and independent reading, but when they had birthday lunches or dentist appointments or other activities going on, I did let some of their minor subjects go.

We didn't do any special "Christmas school" other than reading some Christmas books and they made some Christmas crafts/cards on their own initiative.  We did trade out our monthly hymn, folk song, and our recitations for their Christmas songs and speaking parts for the children's program.

Both the boys were shepherds, and they did well with their speaking parts.  Eleanor was Mary, but requested not to have a speaking part.  She was so cute though, and even though she was "that kid" singing louder than everyone during practices, she was very calm and serious during the actual program.  This picture was taken after the program - hence the tired expressions, goofy smile and/or partially removed costumes.  (Eloise was a very cute cow!)

Christmas was great.  We had fun celebrating with my husband's family on Christmas Eve.  My brother-in-law read the Christmas story and we exchanged gifts, though it's mostly for the grandkids. They had a blast playing with the cousins, and they were exhausted and fell asleep in no time.

Christmas morning was spent relaxing at home with the kids.  We've been pretty intentional about the gifts we give the kids, and what we suggest to the grandparents, so everything is appreciated and enjoyed.  Two of the favorites for the girls has been the play food and the wicker picnic basket from my mom and husband's parents that Eloise received.  Eleanor has also loved her art set from my mom and her board games.

Between the four kids, they received a LOT of games this year - partially because we buy each of them a game for Christmas (and the boys got card games in their stockings), and partially because they're really into board games and received them from other relatives too.  It's great though, because as cold weather keeps us indoors more in the winter, it will give us plenty of "new" stuff to enjoy and more variety to our game nights.

We followed Christmas with illness, but we're mostly over it now.  We have no big plans for New Year's Eve.  I have a feeling that movies and games with the boys are in store.

©2011-2017 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.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Merry Christmas

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Now Available: Magic Stix!

With a toddler in the house, missing marker caps can be a real issue.  Then a day or so later, you find the marker cap that rolled away, but the marker is already dried out!  Even preschoolers sometimes can't get marker caps on tight enough to prevent them from drying out, so imagine my surprise when I heard that the new Magic Stix from The Pencil Grip, Inc. are guaranteed to not dry out with the cap off for seven days!

Magic Stix are available at Amazon in 12-count and 24-count packs, and would make a great gift for the little artist in your life!  We have used Kwik Stix solid tempera paint sticks for a couple of years now, and have been very pleased.  I knew my little artist would appreciate that her favorite art supplier, The Pencil Grip, Inc is now offering markers!  She loves to draw, and we're always looking for quality art products that work in a home with younger children around.  Not only do these markers boast a good shelf-life, they are washable, orderless and non-toxic.  The plastic case is a nice bonus, because little hands don't have to try to cram markers back into a thin cardboard box that will eventually get ripped.  It also makes them great for travel, because the box won't get crushed inside of carrying bags.  This all makes them great for families with younger siblings, or for preschool classrooms and daycare centers.  In fact, I'll be adding Magic Stix to my list of "donation friendly" art supplies for the preschool classes we attend!

This is a sponsored post on behalf of The Pencil Grip, Inc., a company we use and love!  All opinions are those of my own or my family. 

©2011-2017 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.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Term One Enrichment Studies

This year as we transition to a more traditional Charlotte Mason approach, some of the things I wanted to add in were enrichments - hymn, folk songs, poetry, composer and picture studies.  I've been so haphazard about including beautiful stuff in our routine, but this year I have made a concentrated effort and it's going well so far.  Since we started with enrichments and slowly added curriculum, then switched to AO, our first twelve weeks of enrichments ended before our first official AO term.  I think that will balance out in the summer though, so we can slow down for awhile on the "extras" as we finish up our AO year.

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Composer Study

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Emory remembered learning about Mozart in his music appreciation course at co-op last year, and had been requesting to learn more about him, so it seemed like a great place to start.  Having at least one enthusiastic child always helps.

I tried to read Mozart, The Wonder Boy by Opal Wheeler.  It's a really nice living book, if you're looking to add something, but we just didn't finish it.  I feel like we don't need a book to go with every single subject, if that makes sense.

We did, however, listen to Classics for Kids, because that's easy to do over a snack or lunch and only takes a few minutes.  It hits the highlights, without putting anyone into information overload.

Mostly, I just played Mozart in the background.  We have Amazon Prime, so I just stream one of the prime albums (99 Must-Have Mozart Masterpieces) through the computer or Alexa.

Picture Study
Claude Monet
Picture Study Portfolio: Monet

Going into our first picture study, there was a tiny insecure part of me that worried the boys wouldn't enjoy it.  It actually went very well!  All three of the older kids enjoy going through the pictures and choosing the next one to be studied.  Whoever chose the current picture gets to narrate first.  I've been pleasantly surprised that even the 11 year old has taken a great deal of interest in this!

The thing is though, they don't want to do the same picture for 2 weeks.  So for Monet, we did one picture each week, then when we made it through the 8 included pictures, we reviewed.  We went over the names of all of them again, played some memory games, had the kids describe them without me seeing, that type of thing.  The remaining 4 weeks, I did display some of the lesser-known pictures for a week at a time.

We started with the biography that came with the portfolio, and used a few books to supplement.
Who Was Claude Monet? by Ann Waldron
Linnea in Monet's Garden by Christina Bjork

Hymn Study
We've never formally covered hymns as part of our homeschool, but we started this year.  We didn't do anything special; we just listened, read through the lyrics and sang them.

August - Victory in Jesus
September - Marching to Zion
October - My Jesus I Love Thee

Folk Songs
Another new-to-us activity, so this has been interesting!

August - I've Been Working on the Railroad
September - The Outlandish Knight
October - Nice Field of Turnips

We started off the year with A.A. Milne.   It was an okay choice, I suppose, but I'll definitely keep this poet in Year 1 for the girls.
When We Were Very Young
Now We Are Six

This is where I dropped the ball.  First we read Lamb's retelling of A Midsummer Night's Dream, which went well.  Emory enjoyed it.  Then we tried to listen to the audio version, but that didn't happen.  Neither did the movie.

I think we're going to start over after Christmas.  Elliott should be reading the actual plays in AO, and Emory has loved the reader's theater activities in his co-op literature class, so I think he will enjoy reading the plays.  We'll see.

Term 2 enrichments are coming along well, and I'll be sharing more about our resources soon.

©2011-2017 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.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A Peek into our Homeschool: November 2017

The kids have been playing a lot of board games for the past month or so.  I think because the weather is starting to turn and we aren't outside as much; I'm still intentionally reducing screen time, so they're looking for things to keep them busy.

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They seem to rotate through a couple favorites at a time, but I seem to recall that Clue, Monopoly Ultimate Banking, Battleship, Uno, Slamwich and Monopoly Deal were all being played through November.  We do get preschool games out for Eleanor, but the boys are also good about letting her be on their "team" when they play, and they let her roll dice, move pieces or pay the money for rent.  For the last several years, we have made sure to include a game for birthdays and Christmas, and a card game in each stocking (or some type of game-like "activity" for the toddler years) so with four kids and three winter birthdays, we'll have plenty of new goodies coming in to keep us busy during the colder months.

Core Subjects with Ambleside Online
We finished up Week 7 with AO at the end of November.  It has taken some work to get into a rhythm, but we're starting to figure things out.  I think the hardest part for me is is trying to balance the schedule evenly over 4 days.  The biggest challenge for the boys is increased workload, especially the Y4 - taking on more of his own reading load.  When we were schooling almost every subject together, I did the bulk of the reading aloud; now much of that has shifted to him.  He has really risen to the challenge!

Emory's thriving in almost every subject.  He is loving the animal science and wishes there was more.  He's not a huge fan of geography - but of course Elliott says that is one of his favorite subjects now.  They all love to watch any videos I scrounge up to go with their science.

Eleanor (Y0) mostly plays with Eloise during school, though sometimes she will ask for math or an educational app.  She loves to paint, draw, and color, and will often sit with Emory during his science so she can color an animal picture with him.  She frequently blurts out "You haven't asked me for my narration!" and wants me to write it on her paper too.  Sometimes she will ask me for one of her school books (a picture book) so she can narrate it.  I'm letting her take the lead, but I imagine she's going to be my eager beaver when it comes to school.

We're listening to Beethoven for our composer, and studying Leonardo da Vinci for our artist.  We started the rest of our music with Amazing Grace (Hymn) and An Acre of Land (Folk Song) but the last week of the month we switched to the songs they're singing in junior church for the Christmas program.  We're also reading Shel Silverstein for our poet.  He's about as nonsensical as A.A. Milne, but a bit more appealing to my boys - probably because of their age.

Nature Study
Our nature study is not always consistent.  I'm not good about saying "We're studying XYZ this week/month..." and then following through or documenting it in nature journals.  However, we always manage to study the wing of a bee that we find in the house, animals on the farm, and tree stumps and the bugs around the tree.  We jump in leaves and we play with shadows while reciting My Shadow by Robert Louis Stevenson.  It might not be consistent, but it is fun!


This post has been shared at Homeschool Highlights and Homeschool Review Crew.

©2011-2017 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.