Friday, August 31, 2012

Week 5 ~ Mostly On the Banks of Plum Creek

On My Mind ~ I am glad that we finally came to a decision about dance this fall.  We are going to put the kids into dance and prepare for the Nutcracker.  Hopefully, Timothy's surgery will not interfere with the performance season, but if it does, we are ready to relocate and be his support team.  It is a relief that our little dance studio understands that we cannot make a definite commitment this year.  Goldilocks also will be in the homeschool choir, and Little Red Riding Hood and Tom Sawyer will be in homeschool chess class.

The World of Charlotte Mason ~ In years past I have had difficulty getting Shakespeare into the kids lives (as Charlotte Mason so strongly suggests).  This year I wanted to make sure that we were getting exposure to Shakespeare, which I happen to love.  Our local city does Shakespeare plays in the park each summer for the nominal fee of a donation.  This year we decided to go even though it was King Richard II (not anyone's favorite in our family).  The stage was very impressive and the kids were excited to be out at night.  I told the kids the synopsis and told them to try to hear as many delicious words or phases as they could.  That is one of the joys of Shakespeare, is it not?  Little Red Riding Hood was still not impressed, but the others found some enjoyment in the storyline. 

Some of the lines the kids caught (at least parts of) ~

  • Through the false passage of thy throat, thou liest
  • Desolate, desolate, will I hence and die; The last leave of thee, take my weeping eye.
  • So be thy fortune in this royal fight
  • Too far in years to be pupil now!

I am pleased with their first Shakespeare experience and look forward to taking them next summer.  Next time, I'll find out what the play is in advance and spend some time learning the play with them in more detail.

After the play we went to slide down the really tall slide in the dark at the park around the corner.  Sliding at night adds a whole new level of excitement.

Our Unit Study ~  We finished our study of On the Banks of Plum Creek .  Below are the projects we did to accompany the book.
  • Made dry fruit
  • Did individual book reports
  • Played cat's cradle and other string games
  • Drew the food chain of a grasshopper
  • Watched YouTube videos on water purification
  • Studied a willow tree
  • Learned geography terms
  • Studied lichen
  • Talked about water safety in a river and a pool
  • Made instant snow with polymers
  • Ate plums and turnips
  • Made a button string
  • Used Draw Write Now to learn how to draw horses and barns
  • Played in a stream
  • Had a mini-Christmas celebration
  • Made a food bag and donated it to the hungry

What Is Working ~ I love my new to me "to go" bag.  We spend lots of time on the road, and with "out of the home" classes starting in a few days, it will be nothing but busier.  This great bag has so many pockets.  I can fit all of the kids' stuff, snacks and my own reading/to do work. 

Counting Blessings ~ I am so thankful that we built our lives around a small radius of our home.  I do drive in a lot of circles, but I am able to get everyone where they need to be, and we are doing much better than expected with one car.  I am glad to be getting such good mileage with our little car now that gas prices are going up.  Little Red Riding Hood was discharged (for now) from physical therapy.  She has lots of exercises to do at home.  I had the opportunity to go out to dinner with seven women in our adoption support group this week. 

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, August 24, 2012

Week 4 ~ Friday Wrap-Up

On My Mind ~ My mind is filled with thoughts this week.  The children are really getting into school.  They are in love with our latest Laura Ingall's book, On the Banks of Plum Creek.  It is rewarding to see them enjoying their studies so much.  This first week of living with only one car that does not fit our entire family went much better than expected.  We are hopeful that we will be able to hold out for a few months.  Not knowing when surgery is looming for my son still has me questioning whether we should take a semester break from the dance studio.  Performing in the Nutcracker is such a huge commitment, and it would be a pity to work so hard to prepare for the performance and then have to miss it if it turned out we had to be at Duke Hospital for surgery.

In Our Homeschool ~ The kids are just eating up On the Banks of Plum Creek.  They beg to hear another chapter and another and another.  There is no way I am getting in the way of their excitement to learn.  I think we will end up having a week to do all the projects after we finish the story.  They also are loving All About Spelling.  We learned all about non-vascular plants by exploring silly squares and studying lichen.  The only unpopular subject is their typing class.  The kids have also been busy working on their projects for the state fair.  I'm glad that I am requiring them to do a project or performance each quarter for public display, as it's good for them to face their critics and strive for excellence.

Our Nature Study ~ This week we are studying lichen.  This tiny little plant grows on rocks and trees.  It will only thrive in environments where the air quality is very clean.  We are fortunate to live in an area where lichen is easy to find.  We set off on our quest to find lichen, and I immediately lost the children to splashing in a mountain stream.  Oh well, if you can't beat them, join them.  We found lichen along the edge of the stream, much to everyone's delight.  If I had brought them a change of clothes, I think they would have sat in the stream to draw in their nature books.

What Is Working For Us ~ I made a chart at the beginning of the year of our daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly goals.  For example, I can check the chart weekly and remember that we want to do Draw Write Now each week or a new character trait monthly.  This is helping a lot with my weekly planning.

Counting Blessings ~ I am so thankful for our health.  We were blessed with some produce and organic food from our relatives, and it has helped a great deal this week.  Goldilocks is really enjoying homeschool choir and is so excited about the pen pal program they are doing this year.  I love to see her excited to write letters.  I am very thankful for my husband, who spends hours entertaining the kids each evening when I really need a break.  My Mom has a JCPenney credit card that got a free haircut for both my daughters this month, which was really helpful. 

Blessings, Dawn

Day in the Week ~ Day Three

The third day of our week found us with no appointments.  I decided to take advantage of the day's openness to get some errands done and start a project with the kids.

6:30 to 7:30 ~ I got up, dressed, blogged, checked email and did paperwork.  I also started planning September.  The Biltmore Homeschool Days are moved to the fall this year.  We can't wait to go.

7:30 to 8:00 ~ I took my husband to work.  As you can see from the photo, he was in a silly mood.

From this point forward I was not able to keep a good record of the time so I will just give you the flow of our day.

Morning ~
During circle time we talked about entering the state fair.  The kids agreed that they would like to make shoebox floats and eagerly discussed themes for them.  Goldilocks decided to make a theme based on our Laura Ingalls studies; Tom Sawyer will make a wizard float; and Little Red Riding Hood will make a leprechaun and rainbow float.  Everyone got busy drawing pictures of the floats and looking to see what art supplies we had.  (life skills, art)

After an hour or so of planning for the state fair, I moved them on to their math/typing/spelling rotation.  (math, typing, spelling)  Once they were done with the rotation, we had a quick lunch and headed out to turn in our entry forms for the state fair.  We were so late getting the forms in that we needed to deliver them in person.  We also needed to go shopping for some float supplies and drop off Tim at college.  While in the car, we listened to five chapters from our book on tape, On the Banks of Plum Creek. (literature, history)

Afternoon ~
After we dropped Tim off at college, we headed home to start working on our floats.  I worked with each child individually while the other two had media time.  The color is distorted in the photo of the partially finished floats.

Grandma arrived to take Goldilocks out for her haircut.  We decided to go along to see what clothes were on super clearance at JCPenney's.  There wasn't much yet.  Goldilocks enjoyed getting a somewhat new hair style.

By the time we got out of the salon, it was time to start my new afternoon routine of picking up Tim, dropping him off home, and picking up my husband from work.  Once I was home again, it was time to make dinner.  We had meatballs with mushrooms and peppers.  The kids played with Dad and the girls worked a little bit more on their floats.  For once, we all got to bed on time.

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Day in the Week ~ Day Two

Welcome to "Day Two" of a peek into our homeschool days.  This day we were on the run all day long!  We still got some great homeschooling done, though.

6:30 to 7:30 ~  I woke up and got ready for the day.  I managed to blog and rotate the laundry before the kids woke up.  I cut up a watermelon and made hard boiled eggs to be turned into deviled eggs later.
My helper helped clean up the water melon rinds.
7:30 to 8:00 ~ I took DH to work while Tim watched over the kids getting up.

8:00 to 9:00 ~ Everyone had a breakfast of watermelon and toast or grain-free bread with jam.
While I continued washing all the laundry I could find for our trip to the laundromat later in the day, the kids played with Lincoln Logs and Playmobil.

9:00 to 9:45 ~ After the children did their "Just Five Things", we moved onto circle time.  During circle time, we read about Vincent Van Gogh and discussed the value of learning in our prayer book.  The kids explored the Silly Squares that we began growing the night before.  We discussed how they were similar to non-vascular plants such as lichen.  The kids also did Explode the Code.  (language arts, science)

10:00 to 10:40 ~ We went to the library.

11:00 to 12:30 ~ We went to the dentist for Little Red Riding Hood, Tim, and Mom.  While in the waiting room, all the kids did math, and occupational therapy, which today was cutting and pasting puzzles. (occupational therapy, math)

12:30 to 1:30 ~ We picked up lunch at a fast food restaurant (getting gluten-free food for Tom Sawyer) and dropped the boys off at home.  Goldilocks went to homeschool choir.

1:30 to 2:45 ~ While Goldilocks was in choir, Little Red Riding Hood and I dried and folded the laundry at the laundromat.  We also got a little grocery shopping done.

2:45 to 4:00 ~ Everyone is home, and we all had free time after chores.  The kids played on the computer, and I made phone calls.

4:00 to 4:20 ~ We listened to two chapters of On the Banks of Plum Creek(History, Literature)

After picking up DH, we had dinner and enjoyed the evening playing outdoors.

To read Day One, click here

Blessings, Dawn

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Day in the Week ~ Day One


I have been doing a monthly "Day in the Life" entry for a few years now.  I love to look back on the little snapshots of our life.  Every day is so different for most homeschoolers and doubly so if you are raising special needs kids.  I decided that I want to try and record 3 or 4 days in a row of a "Day in the Life" to give a more complete picture of our homeschool journey.  Some days are filled with academic learning and others are heavier on child training and real world experiences.  It is all good and displays a more cohesive picture of our homeschool journey than just one day.  If you are new here our kids are 22,11,10, and 8.  Our three oldest children have many special needs that weave many extra doctor appointments and therapies through our days.

This first day finds us at home most of the day.  It is what I would call a strong academic day.

6:30 to 7:30 ~ I got up, dressed and started the teapot.  I then checked email and looked at blogs.  Tom Sawyer (10) and Tim (22) awoke and settled into their morning routine of reading books and playing with Boomer.

7:30 to 8:00 ~ We are down to one car right now, so I drove my husband to work.

8:00 to 8:45 ~ Everyone is awake and we all eat breakfast.  The girls play with Play Mobil and Tom Sawyer builds a zip line.  I hang up the laundry.  Everyone does their Just Five Things (eat breakfast, clear dishes, clean clothes, brush hair and teeth, do morning chore).  In the third photo, my daughter asks, "Will my Mom take a picture of everything, even me cleaning the sink?"

8:45 to 9:15 ~ Circle time (we read from A Child's Book Of Prayer in Art, looked at calendar, and read Shakespeare sonnet) (Bible and poetry)

9:15 to 10:30 ~ We rotated through Teaching Textbooks (math), All About Spelling (language arts), typing lesson.  I work with whomever is doing a spelling lesson while the others work independently on math and typing.

10:30 to 11:00 ~ We did our group language arts lesson from English for the Thoughtful Child and then the kids did journaling and Explode the Code. (language arts)

11:00 to 12:15 ~ We worked on our unit study.  Our current literature-based unit study is On the Banks of Plum Creek.  We are loosely using the Prairie Primer as our guide. We listened to three chapters on audio CD which were about Christmas and sacrificing what you want for another's wishes.  We then made a button string, packed food for the needy and celebrated our own mini Christmas (with a few things sent by the grandparents). Art, History, Literature

12:15 to 1:15 ~ We ate lunch and took Tim to college.

1:15 to 2:00 ~  We continued school.  The kids and I learned to draw a horse from the book Draw Write Now.  Then the kids had therapy time ~ fine motor skills for Tom Sawyer, balance work for Little Red Riding Hood and vision therapy for Goldilocks. Art, OT, PT, Vision

2:00 to 3:30 ~ Free Time!!  The kids took turns on the computer and played on the trampoline.

3:30 to 4:00 ~ We did chore time (sweeping and dusting today). 

4:00 to 5:00 ~  I played chauffeur, picking up and dropping off Tim from school and my husband from work.  The kids went along with me.

5:00 to 6:00 ~ I made dinner (chicken and broccoli ~ Asian style with coconut aminos instead of soy).  DH started the silly squares soaking in the bathtub with the kids.  We will be learning about non-vascular plants tomorrow to go along with our study on Lichen. Science

After dinner ~ The kids ran around screaming with Dad.  Then they settled down for story time (currently Notes From the Dog).  Then it was off to personal stories with Dad, personal hygiene and bed. Literature

See you tomorrow with the next day in a life.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Week 3 ~ Friday Wrap-Up

On My Mind ~ This week was filled with questions and very few answers.  I am going to have to let go (again ~ this seems to be a hard lesson for me) and remember that God will take care of us.  We did get an answer to our most important question and the rest I will just have to wait and see.  In other news, our minivan seems to have died.  For now we are going to explore the bus system and continue to save up for a new vehicle.  We shall see how well it all goes and how long we can hold out.

Where We Are Going ~ We just returned from a few days at Duke and Ronald McDonald House.  Timothy's pacemaker is wearing out and will need to be replaced in the near future.  The most important question was whether the cause of his tiredness was the pacemaker battery being so low.  Apparently, he isn't tired because of his heart or pacemaker.  It seems the nasty virus our family had just took a real toll on him.  The doctors believe that he will need a new pacemaker some time in the next 6 months.  We will check his pacemaker by phone monthly, and they will let us know when it is time.  We should get a few weeks notice.

While at Duke, we visited the Life and Science Museum.  We love this museum.  We only did the outdoor exhibits and butterfly conservatory this time.  The kids loved the butterflies.  We went on the train ride and played in the "catch the wind" section as well.  We also got to see the kids' grandparents who came down for the few days at Duke.  That was an extra special treat.
The kids had a blast swimming in the hotel pool where their grandparents stayed.  They are really getting better at swimming and could have stayed in for hours, if time had allowed.

People We are Seeing ~ Besides seeing the grandparents, we saw my husband's sister and family earlier in the week.  It was wonderful to see them.  They had not seen our younger set of children since they were toddlers and preschoolers.  We had a great time showing them around our moutain city.

In Our Homeschool ~ Remarkably, we got math done every single day of the week.  The kids love math that much!  We also started our unit study, On the Banks of Plum Creek from the Laura Ingalls series. We are using Prairie Primer just as we did with the earlier books and still enjoying it.  The first three days we made it through our entire routine of learning.  The last two days of the week we were at Duke Medical Center and only did math, P.E., field trips and lessons in patience.  Our nature study this week was willow trees, and we were lucky to have one right in our neighbor's yard.

Counting Blessings ~ Timothy is safe in the care of good doctors.  We are blessed to have a bus system in our town to explore while we adjust to one vehicle (the vehicle does not hold our entire family).  We were blessed with safe travels.  We were able to see relatives we had not seen in a long time.  Everyone has returned to good health.  We managed to get lots of school done even with all of the extra happenings.  We were able to stay at Ronald McDonald House (RMH) once again.  This is such a wonderful blessing.  In the more than a decade of staying there, we have seen RMH go through so much growth.  They are currently doubling their size and the renovation is amazing.  Even during this massive renovation, the house has stayed open.  With the help of volunteers, the growing pains of the house is smooth.  What a blessing all of the volunteers are to the house and people who are staying there!

I am joining Homegrown Learners.

Blessings, Dawn

Monday, August 13, 2012

Our School Room 2012 - 2013

It is time for the Not Back to School peek into everyone's classroom week. This is my favorite week! We use our living room, which is our largest room, as our classroom. It holds our dining room table and works wonderfully for us.

The second photo is the view of our music corner. We have a lap harp, piano, and also a  harmonica. The kids use to learn the piano. You can also see behind the piano that we use the stairwell for educational posters, our world history timeline, and our U.S.A. map. I use this website to make our timeline figures.

At the bottom of our stairs we have the bookcase I got for free last year! It holds all of our math manipulatives, geography books, continent boxes, and most of the history books. Following that picture is a close up of one of our continent boxes which holds postcards, pictures, money, crafts and artifacts from each continent.

Next is our computer area. This is where the kids do typing lessons. They use the headphones so that the songs and games on the program don't disturb other learners in the room.

As we move around the room, we come to our table where all of our seat work takes place. I have found that my current set of children need the structure of sitting at the table as their workload has gotten harder. My oldest, who has graduated, could learn under the table, in bed or sitting on the kitchen counter. My younger set of kids do their best work at the table. You can see that we use a laptop for math (Teaching Textbooks), and the CD player in the background is used often for books on tape and Story of the World.

After the table we have our "ready to go" game baskets and therapy corner. We spend many hours every week in doctor waiting rooms and the baskets hold all of our games that are easy to pack and go for educational entertainment while we are waiting to see doctors. On the floor is our physical therapy corner for our youngest who needs some corrective physical therapy for her turned-in feet.

This is our circle time board.  On the board is our current character trait that we are working on, a poem from our quarterly poet, artwork of our quarterly artist, calendar and reminders, and our Bible verse or story of the week. Circle time is also when we work on coming-of-age skills (such as hygiene, social skills with friends/strangers, and skills for growing up responsibly, respectfully and refined).

The next bookcase holds the majority of the books we use daily. This bookcase also holds our FIAR (Five In a Row) and Beyond FIAR resources. 

Right by our front door is where we have our white board and spelling corner. We are using All About Spelling this year and so far we love it.

Lastly, we have our row of bookcases that holds most of the rest of the books in the house. The red bucket holds our weekly library books.

We also do lots of reading in our sitting room which has our red love seat.

Hope you've enjoyed a look at our classroom this year.

Blessings, Dawn