Sunday, February 16, 2014

Why it's Impossible to Take a Break from Homeschooling

We tried to take a break from homeschooling this week, but the learning just kept happening...

We tried to just eat dinner, but ended up surveying and charting food preferences.

We tried just reading bedtime stories, but were transported to another time and place with a "Little House in the Big Woods".

We tried just playing with dolls, but reenacted some ice dancing moves we'd seen on a live telecast of the Olympic Games.

We tried just watering our beans,

but our beans became sprouts.  

We tried just painting with watercolors, but made one of a kind art pieces.

We tried just looking at photos of our vacationing grandparents, but got a lesson in the geography and culture of another country.

We tried just coloring with markers, but learned how to say the name of a new color.

We tried just having friends stop by to drop some things off, but sat down to take turns reading pages of a book to each other.

We tried just performing on stage for an audience, but experienced the pay off of a long term commitment. 

We tried taking a break from homeschooling, but- the learning never stops.

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Week in Review: Oak Meadow Kindergarten ~ Week 6

Ah.  A new week, wide open with opportunity.  It's nice to go into the week feeling this way, even if the feeling is fleeting...

All is off to a good start.  We read "The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies" and incorporate letter E into bunny ears.  

For more ear making fun, sister makes headbands with construction paper and staples which brother happily models.

He's an elephant, in case you couldn't tell.

Sister chooses to make a unicorn for herself.

Who needs ears when you've got a fabulous horn?  

Daddy picks up some beans at the grocery store so we are able to set up a science project from a couple weeks back.  The glass is filled with wet cotton balls surrounded by paper towel.  We'll see if these guys take off any more than our other planting attempts.

See prior post, "My Day in the Life homeschool with a 5- and 1- year old"

We don't have much time before we have to take off for parenting class and sister is having a hard time getting through her morning chores.  I attribute it to putting in two consecutive nights at rehearsal as we've usually gotten a day off in between. 

We leave the house without getting even circle time under our belt.  When we get home it's time for lunch.  Though a nap sounds nice, sister was invited to attend dance class with a friend so she will be picked up in an hour or so.  In the mean time, I put brother down for his nap and help sister make a list of her preschool classmates.  She writes their and her name on some leftover Valentine's from last year which thankfully have not yet lost their luster.  

After dance, rehearsal, and dinner, sister realizes we haven't done circle so we trek upstairs and do our thing.

Since we're already in pj's, it seems best to hold off on the cutting and gluing of spaghetti noodles that I'd also planned on.  

We do check on our beans and I don't know that anyone is excited as I am to see them already sprouting away!

It's official: I've got the crud that Daddy did earlier this week.  I find myself pretty much immobile once I sit down on the couch.  Mayhem- I mean play based learning- soon ensues.

I send a desperate text asking if Daddy could possibly relieve me mid-day.  I'm relieved when he says sure, as this will allieve me of my afternoon chauffeur duties which I honestly feel incapable of performing at this point.  

Daddy gets sister to school and tackles the grocery list I complied in preparation for our weekend visitors.  He also picks up an easy dinner to bring home after picking up sister from rehearsal.  

Once again, we have reached the end of the day without any circle time.  Sister asks is she can have circle instead of a book with me, and crud or not, I can't turn her down.

We end up reading a story connected to our math lesson on number three about two families joining and creating a third, depicted by sister below.

I comment on how sister used the same two colors for each of the three family members and saw this as a symbol of her ingesting and representing the story's theme.  Inner happy dance!
We start off our Valentine's day off by surprising the kids with some small gifts and homemade cards.  We send Daddy off to work with some pink pancakes and an attempt at a heart shaped one that is slightly overflowing with the good stuff. 

We also make chocolate chip cookies (with red sprinkles, of course!) which we share with family and friends that come to visit later in the day.

Besides circle, we didn't tackle any school today.  But our little foursome spent a special day and evening together and felt quite accomplished in terms of loving one another.    

Somewhere amidst the chaos of this week, I decided that what we needed next week was a break from our curriculum or any scheduled learning time.  I thought sister might be disappointed when I informed her of this plan but she very casually agreed that it was a good choice, validating my feelings that it was the right one.

We haven't been getting to all of our weekly projects and I feel that I have- at times- unintentionally overlooked all the learning opportunities we are given just by living life each day.  We will have an extra day with Daddy home this week, have friends visiting from out of the country (!), and will be busy with daily rehearsals before sister's first set of performances this weekend.  

I am truly excited to see what we have done and learned by week's end and look forward to returning here to reflect on our experience.

Hope your week to come is full of goodness. 

Find us on Facebook at Where the Stream Runs Blue :)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

My Homeschool Day in the Life with a 5- & 1- year old

At the beginning of this year, I transitioned from being a special education teacher for children age birth to five to a (mostly) full time stay at home mom of two.

I decided to pursue home-schooling with five-year old sister using the Oak Meadow Kindergarten curriculum and 23-month old brother has been happy to come along for the ride.

In order to quite literally put food on the table, I continue to accept occasional substitute teaching jobs and recently began leading a weekly parent education class.  

I planned on our 'day in the life' being one where I spent half the day at home and half the day at work, but we all know that our days don't always go exactly (or at all) as we planned:

6:50 a.m.
I've been up since my husband's alarm went off a half hour ago, but it's still not easy to pull myself out of bed.  I am scheduled to work a substitute gig the second half of the day, so I can't get away with skipping a shower today.  

When I get downstairs, I hear brother in his room chatting to himself.  We look at a book together and then I sit him down at the kitchen table with something to drink before I head to the shower that my husband just vacated. 

After getting out of the shower, I pop into sister's room who is now awake and requesting my presence.  We chat for a few minutes then I head upstairs to get dressed.

7:30 a.m. 
I get breakfast plates ready for everyone and check my online accounts on my phone in between.  

My husband comes downstairs to announce he isn't feeling well and is going to stay home from his job as a school-based speech language pathologist.  He heads upstairs to the quiet of our bedroom and I send a message to cancel with our friend who was going to watch the kids for me this afternoon.  
I sit down to eat and sister announces that she is going to do "her chores" which consist of making her bed, tidying her room, and getting dressed.  Brother and I finish our breakfast and he helps me clear the table afterwards, an emerging (and welcome) contribution on his part.  Now for a cup of coffee.

8:20 a.m.
I set out to find some felt for today's morning project.  I'm striking out until I find an unfamiliar piece of orange cloth that my husband identities as a cleaning agent from the dollar store.  Perfect for last minute crafting.  

We've implemented a two show rule on Netflix per day and sister request one now, having finished her morning tasks.

8:45 a.m.
Sister announces that she is "ready for school!".  We start each of our homeschool days with circle time.  This currently includes candle lighting, verses, songs, calendar, counting sticks, and today, a review of this week's story, "The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies".

Yesterday, sister drew our letter of the week- E- in the shape if bunny ears.  Today, I invite her to draw an E and a pair of ears (she opted for tiger's) on felt,

cut them out,

and glue them in her lesson book.

Proudly showing off the finished product.

Sister does some free drawing (though she points out that the earth she drew starts with E) and brother plays multiple rounds of the ever entertaining "fill and dump".

I get a call that the family I was going to do an evaluation with this afternoon has cancelled so I won't be heading out to work after all.  I consider calling it quits for making this a "day in the life" now that things are not going as expected, but I've committed and besides, that's life!
9:45 a.m.
The kids have a quick snack and sister decides she'd like to make her 2nd and final show choice today.  This time, she picks one she thinks brother will like: trucks are involved. 

10:15 a.m.
It's our music day so we spend some time learning finger plays and songs before putting on the CD that came with our curriculum.  

Once the music slows down, brother sits with me to so some drawing and sister starts working on a maze, her new favorite pastime.  

I walk outside to get the mail and  although it's raining, nay- pouring, I'm grateful for a few minutes of quiet outdoors.  

Sister asks me to help her finish her maze, then we trade with Daddy and find our way from start to finish.  

I let sister know she received a letter from her new pen pal and we read through it together.  She dictates a response to me but puts off her copy work in favor of more maze-making, enlisting Daddy's expert assistance.

11:30 a.m.
I work on getting lunch ready and a spontaneous dance party in the kitchen erupts to some Latin infused tunes on the radio.  We all enjoy a rare weekday lunch at home together. 

12:15 p.m.
Brother is ready for a nap.  So is Daddy.  After reading a book with me, sister is too.  I settle in on the couch and spend some time with one of my current reads, "Raising Your Spirited Child".  

I go back and forth between manically doing projects during nap time and using it as an opportunity for my own rest and relaxation.  Once I sense the rest of the house is asleep, I figure I should try and follow suit.

2:15 p.m.
I rouse from some semblance of slumber.  Not wanting to wake anyone, I spend a few minutes surfing the web on my phone.  Then sister is up and she and I do a puzzle together.  Not long after, we hear that brother has woken up.  He usually takes some time to adjust after a nap, so I sit with him in the rocking chair and sister sings him some of his favorite songs.

We head to the kitchen for a snack and Daddy comes downstairs and joins us.  We work on a list of groceries that sister and I can pick up when we go into town for her play rehearsal.  She is in a children's theatre production of "The Adventures of Beatrix Potter and Friends", which turned out to be a perfect fit with our curriculum since it heavily features Potter's stories in it's language arts lessons.  The experience is also a great outlet for sister's outgoing and energetic personality.

Alas, the time has come for me to change out of my second skin fleece sweats. 
3:15 p.m.
Sister and I head out and make a stop at our local co-op.  Sister helps to fit all our items in a child sized shopping cart and takes on the important job of writing the number on our bulk bin purchase.

I tell her she can pick out a couple of treats for her brother who is having a birthday next week and she does so without asking for anything for herself.  I'm impressed.

4:00 p.m.
I get sister settled at rehearsal before running to make copies at my work office.  Then I zoom over to the hospital for my weekly allergy shots- not my favorite part of the day, especially the 30 minute waiting period.  I use the time to get started on this blog post, which makes me feel a bit like I'm time traveling.

5:00 p.m.
I get back to rehearsal and the kids are finishing up a snack break.  Sister is coloring in her Brain Quest activity book which we've brought along to help occupy her during the down time.  I get out my paperwork to organize and review for tomorrow morning's parenting class.

Sister doesn't get the chance to go on stage again but she will be rehearsing every week day this week and next leading up to opening night so we are gearing up for many hours spent both on and back-stage.

6:00 p.m.
On our car ride home, I remember that we didn't do one of this week's suggested music activities: learning our phone number to a song.  I had read somewhere that "Frere Jacques" works well, so we sing it together a few times before sister successfully repeats it in her own.

6:20 p.m.
Dinner is ready when we get home.  Daddy and I start on cleanup together before he is asked to join play time leaving me to finish up on my own.  Again, I don't mind the few minutes of quiet to myself.  It's what my introverted self needs sprinkled throughout the day.
After some rough and tumble aka Daddy-style play, it's time for pajamas.  The kids take turns reading one book with me (sister picks one of my very favorites, "Stellaluna") and one with Daddy, brush their teeth, and get tucked in with a goodnight song. 

7:45 p.m.
Our grownup pre-bedtime routine usually comes in the form of a show or two on Netflix and chocolate.  Sometimes books.  Sometimes popcorn.  Always chocolate.

9:15 p.m.
Lights out. 

Goodnight, moon.

Thanks for sharing the day with us!

Find us on Facebook under "Where the Stream Runs Blue" :)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Week in Review: Oak Meadow Kindergarten ~ Week 5

Our week had a recurring theme this week that just so happens to be one of our favorite things around here: pie.

I chose to use verses and songs that mention pie- Little Jack Horner, Georgie Porgie, The Three Little Kittens- and the kids especially loved it when mama cat had a change of heart and allowed her kittens to try the tasty treat.  Our Beatrix Potter story of the week also had a tie-in where one character invites another over for pie leading to some messy mix-ups.  

The time had come to revamp our calendar for the new month which sister took the lead on:

The kid's grandpa has a birthday on the 4th, hence the special heart.
Our letter this week is D so we spent some time thinking of D words.  Sister decided she wanted to draw a picture in her lesson book of she and Daddy at the dump:

The way to every girl's heart, apparently.
When I asked sister to tell me about the story we read the day before, she had a hard time retelling the plot, so we read it again and spent extra time on some elements that were a bit more subtle and therefore confusing. 

We followed the curriculum's suggestions of drawing D's in the shape of a door.  For the first time, I drew my own picture as well at her request with brother adding some special touches.  Sister was concerned that my drawing was more polished than hers (which is why I'd been reluctant to suggest tandem drawing before) so I highlighted the creativity she was using and she offered to add a little to my picture, seen in the green door decor: 

We made the switch over to Tuesday music time and had fun with some new finger plays.  We also heard a lot of Beatles tunes on the public radio station this week in commemoration of their first performance on US television.  We especially enjoyed a version of "Can't Buy Me Love" in Spanish and reminisced about the time we spent in Mexico last year close to this time.

We connected with another homeschooling family through the Oak Meadow group on Facebook, which spurs lots of good discussions and ideas.  Their daughter is close in age to sister and was interested in finding a pen pal, so we exchanged info and sister spent a couple of days writing and decorating a card for her new long distance friend.  We looked at the placement of the mailing and return addresses and stamp and sister wrote the names on the front of the envelope. We are showing off the backside complete with puppy dog sticker (of course) before it left our hands and headed for the east coast.

To connect the letter D with doors and this week's story, I invited sister to cut out a D shaped door that we could glue into her lesson book.  She drew a pie behind the oven door along with the table and chairs for the two pie-eaters from the story.  Hope they don't get too hot in there.

We collected foliage throughout the week to use in art project of leaf printing.  Sister chose three objects and painted them with multiple before we pressed them into the paper.  This was one of my favorite activities as evidenced by the amount of pictures I took.

The craft book suggested affixing the leafs to a piece of cardboard first and this night have allowed for more clarity on the print, but we both enjoyed feeling the different textures- sister as she held and painted them and I when helping her press them down.  Sister played around a bit with her brush once the paint was on the paper, I used the remaining paint to make prints on another piece of paper, and brother used a paint brush to mix the colors on his paper resulting in a diverse trio.  


Our math lessons this week expanded on the number two.  We talked about things that come in pairs- body parts, clothing.  Then I asked sister if she wanted to play an opposites game.  I started with hot and sister didn't know what to say.  I was pretty taken aback since she recited opposites by age 2, but I wonder now if that was rote learning that was not enduring because it wasn't meaningful.  I made a visual with my arms that showed the continuum from one opposite to another, creeping along from hot to warm to cool to...cold!  From there, sister and I took turns starting the game though I coached her through some additional concepts that I would not have expected her to have difficulty with.  I really appreciated this opportunity to support her in hopefully making some more lasting connections.

I saved one of our art projects to coincide with our expansion of the number two and introduced two becoming one through watercolor painting.  We talked about the primary colors and I told sister she could choose two colors.  We used red and yellow and watched as they combined to make orange in she and brother's paintings.

For science this week, we were supposed to study the conditions of local bodies of water.  We checked on our front yard's built in pond throughout the week, and as we left the house in the early afternoon, noticed that it was frozen.  We have been experiencing an unusual cold snap here like many other places across the US and by the time we got home a couple of hours later, things had quickly transformed. 

Our little pond is barely visible to the left of the lavender bush. 

Daddy got a snow day from school/work so he joined us for circle and we shared the songs and verses we'd been reciting this week.  He and sister played another round of the opposites game and he came up with real life examples to explain ideas like full (brother's tummy) and empty.

Our math activity for the day was to cut out a number two from paper and cover it in something we could feel as we traced our fingers along it.  The curriculum suggested sand, but since we didn't have any handy, I suggested some glitter covered foam we had some spare pieces of.  Sister drew her two and began coloring inside its lines with a pattern that I noticed and admired right away.  What I didn't notice was that she'd drawn the two backwards.

I was torn because in the parenting class I am teaching we have been discussing the importance of process over product.  But since this was intended to help us remember the shape of 2 and we obviously needed some help in this area, I decided to point this out to her and ask if she wanted to make another one.  She finished her 2 and was happy to pass it off to little brother.  However, making a second 2 proved challenging and I found myself doing more persistence coaching than I have since our homeschooling began.  Ultimately, I drew a 2 for her and she cut it out.  We then cut out different shaped pieces of the glitter foam and glued them on. 

We swapped out a suggested science activity for time in the snow, building a snowman since the snow conditions were just right and using wax to make our sled travel faster downhill.  We measured nearly two inches on the front porch, a pretty significant accumulation in these parts.

Once back inside and eager to warm up, we decided to round out our theme of the week by making our own pie from scratch.  We were able to freeze a number of cherries from our yard's trees this summer and I committed to making my first lattice style crust.



And in this case, the process and the product brought equal parts satisfaction.

Purr, purr, purr, now you may have some pie.