Weekly Wrap-Up

May!  It’s May!  How did that happen?  Seriously, it was just August of 2017.  I really wish that I had done a weekly wrap up throughout the year.  Even though there isn’t much exciting to report on, I would like the record of what we did.  Well, its better to start now than to never start at all.

Last weekend was full.  You know those kind of crazy weekends when you need another set of parents to get everything done?  That is what we had.  Sims and Sawyer had a climbing competition at the same time that Parks had his first day of sailing team practice.  Next, Sawyer had to be about an hour away to sing at Catawba College.  Her voice instructor brought all of the bands that she worked with this year to come play as part of her senior project.

We had a bit of an off week of school this week.  Parks was supposed to participate in the Starbase Program at our local Department of Defense.  Unfortunately, the class did not work out for him-but it was a week long camp and I had plans with the older two.  I know, I know.  Plans are meant to be flexible.  Tuesday, Parks headed to his ecology class at Latta Plantation while Sims, Sawyer and I took Bella on her first official walk/hike.  Then we went to the Discovery Place in Charlotte for Sims to take a class on cell biology.

Wednesday, Sawyer and Parks went to their drawing class.  They are learning to draw what they see and not what they imagine.  They both love to draw, but this class is really challenging them to step outside of their box with their art.  Thursday, Sims and Sawyer met with their writing teacher.  They are both wrapping up their writing programs for the year.

Friday, we hit the trails.  We met up with two other families and hike Stephens Road Nature Preserve.  Hiking was the perfect wrap up for the week.  The forest had lots of fun finds.  Then we ended the week with a performance of Parks’s band at a local spring fling and the Avengers movie.

 

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Getting Out the Planner!

Well, there is no better time than the present to begin planning for next year.  Actually, I have been planning for the past 6 weeks.  Now, I am working on the specifics.  I use ideas from many people on how to plan including: Waldorf Essentials, Waldorf-Inspired Learning, and various other blogs (do a web search on homeschool planning and you will be amazed!).  I am basically using the same method that I used last year.  Overall, I think the method worked well.

First, I decide on my themes for each child.  The themes guide which blocks that I want to cover.  Second, I make goals for each child for the year.  (I also have the kids make up goals for the year but we do that at the beginning of the school year.)

In the next step, I take the themes, goals and typical grade-appropriate Waldorf blocks to decide what blocks to consider.  I decide on 9 themes/blocks.  Then I get to work looking for books, activities, poems, copywork, etc that will support each block.  Last year, we focused on grammar in our language arts.  This year, we plan to focus on writing using the grammar learned last year.  Once I develop the blocks and the monthly plans, I break everything up into weeks.  I do not make daily plans because our weeks change each month.

I plan to make weekly work plans in my final step.  I am not there yet, but I am close.  I think that I have all of my curriculum planned out and purchased except for one.  I will write on the specifics for each child in the next couple of weeks.  For now, I am still planning.  If you see me, then you will probably see this:

How is your planning going?

Get Out the Planner

planning

Have you noticed that everyone is planning for next year?  Well, they are not alone.  I am working away on next year.  I will be teaching second, fourth and sixth grades.  Thus far, I have my goals for each child (they will write their own goals during the first week of school) and my blocks scheduled out.  I am also in the process of finding resources for each block.

Goals

Parks (second grade): 1) Read instructions independently 2)Reciprocity in discussions (he likes to take over the discussions) 3) journal 4)begin reading silently 5)work independently for 30 minutes 6)increase his independence with communicating his emotions and needs

Sawyer (fourth grade): 1) Independent with writing a well-thought out and planned paragraph 2) increase in critical thinking  3) increase awareness of cause and effect 4) time management skills 5)Begin vocabulary 6) Learn organization skills essential to learning

Sims (sixth grade): 1) Begin note taking with research 2)increase independence with reading and activities 3)time management skills 4)Vocabulary 5)Independent with writing a well planned 5 paragraph paper 6) Journaling

Blocks

3 weeks-form drawing and geography (Sims-Europe, Sawyer- North Carolina, Parks-World)  Everyone will do this block together; however, they will each focus on a different area.

6 weeks- Sims will do business math.  Sawyer will do her first man/animal block and Parks will do heroes and saints.

8 weeks- Sims will work on Rome.  Sawyer will work on the Norse myths and fractions.  Parks will work on folk tales and time.

6 weeks- group block on geology and biomes.

6 weeks- Sims will work on Medieval Times.  Sawyer will complete her second man/animal block and Parks will work on animal legends.

5 weeks-group block on physics.

In addition to the blocks, each child has daily work.  They will all be using Teaching Textbooks for math, growing with grammar for language skills, and  apples and pears for spelling.  In addition to this, they will read and journal daily.

Once I get more specifics on each block, I will get them posted.  How are your plans going for next year?  If you have any ideas on the above blocks or grade levels, I would love to hear them!

Homeschooling Ideas for a Reader

homeschooling for a reader

I am amazed at how different children can be-especially siblings!  Earlier I posted some of our ideas on homeschooling a child with dyslexia.  Today I am going to post on some of our ideas on homeschooling a child who doesn’t want to stop reading!  My daughter is a reader.  She loves to read.  We have to constantly tell her to put the book down to get out of the car, to walk into the store so she won’t walk into anyone, to go to bed….you get the idea.  She always has a book in her hand.  Yes, the fact that she loves to read is awesome-however, it can also make homeschooling a challenge.

Reading, spelling and grammar are not really major areas of concern.  She is an amazing speller but I continue her spelling program to reinforce what she knows from reading.  She reads amazingly well.  I do continue to have her read aloud for at least a few minutes each day.  Grammar is interesting.  If she sees a page that has improper grammar, she can spot it quickly (she is a good editor); however, grammar does not come naturally when she writes.  Thus, most of her grammar I have her fix.  She writes a paragraph.   I have her take a break from it and come back to it the next day.  She then edits her own errors and does fairly well.  If she does not take a break, she doesn’t slow down and edit properly.

Math: How do you get a child who likes to read to do math?  Find math story books!  Our favorite series is the Life of Fred series.  All of my children read through the books; however, Sawyer reads them, works the problems and then redoes each book.  She LOVES Life of Fred!  The stories are funny and relevant.

Science and History:  Another area that I have to be very inventive.  I have stated in the past that I am a very eclectic homeschooling teacher.  We mainly use the Waldorf approach but in this case we use as many living books as possible (more of a Charlotte Mason method).  Living books are simply books that children can relate to.  Living books tell a story that becomes real and that you can feel like you are living.  For example, this year one of Sawyer’s blocks included Judaism.  She read books on Judaism but she did it begrudgingly.  I also had her read The American Girl Series Rebecca.  Rebecca is a little girl who grew up NYC and her family is Jewish.  Sawyer learned exactly what I wanted her to learn.  She learned how Judaism effects a person’s everyday life and the historical events that are celebrated throughout the year by people of the Jewish faith.  Finding living books that relate to what you are trying to teach can be a challenge but it is doable (I actually found one about a family that harvests silk worms during our textile block-that took a lot of researching!).

Organization: Now it may just be my reader that is completely disorganized but I hear from other parents that organization is an issue for their readers as well.  When Sawyer begins reading, she does not stop (a good thing right?  not when you are trying to do school work!).  We use the timer on the microwave a lot.  She can read first thing after breakfast for 30 minutes.  The timer is terrific for a lot of things.  We use it to limit her time reading during school time and as a motivator for activities that she does not want to do.  We set the timer for 10 or 15 minutes.  She sees the time going by and she is able to continue with grammar or spelling.  Getting through all of her work in a day can be a challenge as well.  I am still working on this one and am open for suggestions..smile.  We tried a daily workplan, a weekly workplan, a workbox type of system in which she moved a card from needs to be done to the done side and simply me asking her what she has completed.  I saw on a post recently (I cannot remember where so I cannot give them the credit right now, but if I figure out I will) a method with clothes pins in a jar.  The clothes pins are snapped around the top of the jar and as the activity is complete, the clothes pin is dropped into the jar.  I may give this a try this year along with a timer.

What about pesky papers?  We use our main lesson books to place all papers into.  Papers are glued, taped or stapled into the book right after it is completed.  This includes the wonderful art work that used to be floating around the house.  Once a week, she goes through her cubby to declutter.  Again, this is still a work in progress.  As she gets older and more independent, paper organization and time management will become more important goals (these will be in her goal list for this next year).

Do you have a reader?  I love suggestions!

 

 

Field Trip Friday!

We finally got out of the house!  Thanks to some wonderful friends who set up a true field trip for us, we headed out of our normal rut of a routine and found some gems.  I am amazed at how quickly I got stuck in a routine this year.  I have one kiddo who thrives on routine so I guess I just went with it.  However, I do miss our trips out to explore.

Well, today we joined several of our homeschooling buddies and headed to Hiddonite, NC.  Hiddonite is the home to a large vein of gems-including, hiddenite, emeralds and sapphires.  Emerald Hollow Mine provides educational field trips for schools and other groups.  The kids learned about erosion, how gems are formed in the earth, sluicing and other fun interesting facts.  Of course, the best part of the trip was the gems!

If you are in the NC area, I highly recommend this trip.  The people were extrememly friendly and made the classes entertaining for the kids.

Natural Fibers-the Fabrics of Our Lives

I keep reading blogs about the dreariness of February.  According to these blogs, many people experience homeschooling hardship during this month.  Maybe it is the cold weather? Or the fact that others are looking at new school for the next year?  Whatever the cause, I can completely relate.  However, this is our third year homeschooling and I was prepared for this month!

In January, I felt overwhelmed with all of the work-teaching three kiddos at different levels and with three different learning styles.  I knew that I needed a break.  Thus, I decided to do a textiles block with all three children.  We took a break from our Waldorf Essentials and did a block on our own.  I guess the block was more like a unit study of sorts.  I varied the work load and the difficulty of the work based on the child’s level.

Overall, we studied three different types of fibers-silk, cotton and wool.  We used lots of picture books that gave the history of each fiber, the harvesting of each fiber and the process of taking the raw material and producing something wonderful.  The older kids had the task of finding appropriate videos for each fiber and the process.  They are all looking for the fibers throughout their days.  What did they learn?

The history of each fiber such as where it comes from, how its trade effected the world, and how its development changed the world.

How was it used in the past and the present?

The “life cycle” of the fabric.

How the climate and geographical position of its harvest affects the product.

The chemistry behind dying fibers.

The physics behind turning a raw product into yarn or thread.

The final projects included lots of main lesson pages, papers, tree weaving, ginning and carding cotton, spinning wool into yarn, a field trip to a cotton and wool farm and dyed fibers.  The best part was a relaxed month without too many meltdowns by mom or kids!

Grade 3 Old Testament

As I stated before, I am having a difficult time getting Sawyer interested in the Old Testament blocks and blocks on Judaism.  She loved the Rebecca series and she learned a lot of the information through that series.  I decided that January would be her last Old Testament block.

She decided upon Moses as her last block.  We went through the story of Moses from his birth to his death. We also delved into some history about Egypt and the pharaohs of the time to keep it interesting for her.

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