Sunday, August 25, 2013

First Week Happenings

Our school year has officially begun, and we have been at it for 2 weeks.   We had distractions, schedule adjustments, and attitude adjustments.  But overall, I would say it was a success.  :)  Here is a glimpse into our first weeks of school. 

Memphis Belle began her half-day church preschool class.  While she is at church, the boys and I do our "homeschool thing" (as Crazy Horse calls it).

Each day Crazy horse practices his handwriting and letter formation.

He improves fine motor skills with coloring, tracing, and various activity trays.

We also work on letter recognition and letter formation using playdough and blocks.

Old Crow works on his reading each day.  He is currently reading The Bears on Hemlock Mountain.

We also work on phonics-based spelling with our All About Spelling board.

For math practice and copywork, Old Crow likes to take his work to his "office."  We set up a small desk in a nook in his bedroom.  It is perfect for a quiet space with no distractions.

Old Crow was reluctant to play the piano, but he has taken to it so well!  He loves his lessons and looks forward to practicing each day.

We enjoyed learning our continents with sidewalk chalk.

Then we learned about oceans with a blob map and watercolors.

The boys work together with blocks and Legos while listening to memory work.

Then to celebrate our hard work we made cupcakes!!

I also enjoyed a cupcake or two...this "homeschool thing" is hard work for Mom too.  ;)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Classical Conversations: Our Schedule at Home

During the planning stages this summer, I spent a great deal of time organizing my daily schedule.  Now that I am teaching multiple children, I really want my day to go smoothly and efficiently.  Each child deserves their one-on-one attention, and I needed to take into account areas we want to do together as a family and those areas where one child needs a quiet space with no interruptions.  So planning the order and arrangement of our subjects became very important.  I actually made about 10-15 different schedules (not exaggerating) before I settled on one.  So far, our first weeks of school are going great.  We have made a few tweaks, and I think we have something now that will work great for us!

I find that scheduling is also a big concern for other homeschooling moms.  We like to know what others are doing to help finalize our own thoughts.  So hopefully this will be of help to others. :)

Our Daily Routine

We begin the morning together with our Bible reading and prayer (this is often done during breakfast).  We also update our calendar, review scripture, and discuss our Godly character trait.  We pull out our notebook and practice writing our personal information---name, address, phone number.  Also in our notebook, we fill out our "Page of Prayers" and "I'm thankful for..." page.  These notebook activities are not all done on the same day.  I spread them out through the week.  

Then we begin our workboxes!

Workbox 1:  Math for both
Old Crow begins with independent math work (XtraMath on the iPad, drill sheets, flash cards, etc) while I work one-on-one with Crazy Horse.  Once we are finished with his lesson, Crazy Horse plays a math game or math manipulative and I begin Old Crow's lesson.  
*This is an area where Old Crow needs total concentration, so I send little brother to a nearby room to play on the rug while Old Crow and I work together.

Workbox 2:  Centers for Crazy Horse & English for Old Crow
For lack of a better term, Centers is just a rotating list of independent activities for Crazy Horse.  Listening center, book basket, iPad game, file folder game, puzzles, etc are all things that could be included in his workbox.  Old Crow and I work on English together.

Workbox 3:  Copywork/Writing for both
The English curriculum we are using often gives copywork so we extend that into our writing box.  Scripture is also something we use for copywork.  While Old Crow completes his copywork (usually at a desk in his bedroom for a quiet space), I work with Crazy Horse on his handwriting and letter formation.

Workbox 4:  Classical Conversations for both
I am so thankful for Leigh Bortins, the creator of CC, for giving this idea in the Foundations Guide.  This is something she does with her boys and it is working great for us!  The boys pull out blocks, Legos, etc and play together quietly while listening to the Classical Conversations memory work CD.  Once the songs and week's memory work are over, we clean up and are ready for a snack break.

Workbox 5:  Snack Break
During snack time, I sometimes read aloud or once CC begins I may use that time to drill the memory work.  It is also a great time to unload the dishwasher and put on a load of clothes. :)
After snack, we discuss our CC geography and trace/blob maps.

Workbox 6:  Reading for Crazy Horse and Piano for Old Crow
I send Old Crow off to the playroom where he practices his piano.  After that he has free time and can play until I call him for the next box.  While Old Crow is in another room, Crazy Horse and I concentrate on his reading program.

Workbox 7:  Piano for Crazy Horse and Reading for Old Crow
They basically switch places for this time period.  I work with Old Crow on his reading while Crazy Horse spends time on the piano and then free time in the playroom.

Workbox 8:  Playtime for Crazy Horse and Spelling for Old Crow
Crazy Horse remains in the playroom for free time or he can come and listen in on Old Crow's spelling lesson.

By this point, it is usually around 11:30.  We take a break and get Memphis Belle from preschool.  We eat lunch and play outside.

Afternoon Block with CC
During the afternoon, we have a rotation cycle for our Classical Conversation studies.

Monday:  Prepare for Tuesday's presentations
Tuesday:  Science book basket
Wednesday:  Science readings and science-related activities
Thursday:  History readings and history-related activities
Friday:  Fine arts focus and activity

Daily:  Storytime and A Child's History of the World readings are also done in the afternoon or at bedtime.

Having a routine provides structure and allows the kids the know what to expect each day.  However, the fact that no two days are the same is the beauty of homeschooling.  We are flexible, and I often let the boys lead in their interests.  If they want to talk about bugs and butterflies for a few minutes...let's do that.  Today they wanted to play Pilgrims and Indians after breakfast...sure!  We just adjusted and moved on.  :)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Continents and Sidewalk Chalk

Although our Classical Conversations classes and curriculum will not begin until August 27, we decided to get a jump on the geography section.  I want Crazy Horse to have a basic understanding of maps, globes, and continents before we officially begin with CC.  

After locating the different continents on a globe and counting them, we grabbed some sidewalk chalk and took our learning outdoors!  Together we blobbed the 7 continents in correct relation to each other.  The boys were amazing and did very well remembering where each continent was located.

We then began in North America and took a tour of all continents...jumping to the correct continent I named aloud.  We bunny hopped around the world, swam around the world, and finally they flew around the world.  The movie, Planes, gave us inspiration and they pretended to be their favorite character...flying around until I said "Freeze."  Once they were frozen, they told me what continent they had landed on.  

There are so many ideas on how this "outdoor map" can be played again and again...each time offering a new skill.
*Have children blob the continents themselves
*Blob certain continents and children figure out which ones are not included
*Blob shapes and have children fill in the names of the continents

And of course, this will be perfect when we begin with oceans!

It's hard to beat fresh air, fun, and learning!


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Homeschool Orientation for Kids

This year will be my first attempt at officially homeschooling more than one child.  I will have both a Kindergartener and a 2nd grader.  While Old Crow is now a pro at this homeschooling thing, little brother--Crazy Horse--still can't quite figure it all out.  He knows about the schoolroom and where we keep the puzzles, crafts, and markers.  He knows we "do school" at home, but he can't wrap his mind around what he will be doing this year.  :)  

So to ease his mind (and mine) a little, I decided to have a special day where it was just him.  A day set aside to provide him with some one-on-one attention before our "1st day of school" on August 12.  

This past Thursday was Crazy Horse's special day.  We began the morning with a tour of the schoolroom.  I made sure he knew where everything was located--books, craft supplies, puzzles, his workboxes, and his notebook.

We spent some time playing with the puzzles. :)


I then went over my expectations for his behavior and attitude.  This was just a reiteration of what he discuss daily.  ;)

Next, I showed him his workbox system.  This has worked great for Old Crow and it is especially recommended when teaching multiple children.  So Crazy Horse now has his very own.  We took time to look in each box, and he also wanted to look through some of the things already placed in his boxes.

The shelf on top of the 10-drawer rolling cart will hold his notebook.  This notebook is basically like a portfolio that will house all of his work.  It is divided into sections...Name (for writing his name and personal information), Bible, Geography, History, Science, and Arts.  It will hold ongoing work as well as finished projects.  We got the idea from Brandy at Half-A-Hundred Acre Wood.  Check out her Classical Notebook here.

Crazy Horse put to use our new art carousel and decorated the cover of his notebook.  This keeps all of our supplies in one spot and they are able to share since it easily turns.

Last, we talked about the calendar board. 

Then we enjoyed the rest of the day doing things that Crazy Horse loves!

Popcorn snack

We rode to the airport and looked at the planes and jets.

And topped it off with a visit to our favorite frozen yogurt store.

You guessed it...Friday was Old Crow's special day.  We began the morning with his choice for breakfast.


Once we were back at home, Old Crow and I spent one-on-one time in the schoolroom.  He didn't need as much preparation so I basically just wanted him to understand how having 2 workboxes would work.

And then he decorated the front cover of his notebook.

I also showed him some new math applications he would be using on the iPad.

We ended his special day with the movie Planes.

Today is Saturday and Memphis Belle has declared that today is her day.  I can't wait to see what is in store. :)


For a more detailed look at our schoolroom and workboxes, click here.