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Monday, October 7, 2013

Homeschool Has Begun

This school-year, school is different for me and my kids.  We are taking on a homeschooling adventure and we've been at it for over a month now.  I think we're now in somewhat of a groove.  

As part of homeschool, I want my kiddos to learn responsibility and house skills, so I set aside 15 minutes a day devoted to a weekly project.  I decided that we would take a week and weed our front flower bed.  My kids haven't had much experience weeding (and I personally dislike weeding) plus, the flower bed was in sorry shape.  I figured 15 minutes a day was doable and we'd be done in a week.

Well, weeding was happening, but much slower than I anticipated.  You see, with the pull of a weed, usually a neat bug or cute creature would be uncovered, inhibiting our progress.  This, however, was an excellent time to incorporate our nature study (which is what we are focusing our science lessons on this year).  We found potato bugs, caterpillars, beetles, honey bees, ants, spiders (do you see why weeding is not on my favorites list?), and even a dead mouse body that had decayed into nothing but bone and hair, a large carnivorous wasp nest, and a cute little frog.  I may be missing a few things, but you get the picture.
Amara holding a potato bug.
We also discovered that grass weeds take over quickly and it's best to get them when they're small.
We wore gloves for protection (who knows what's hiding in those weeds?)
Another bug that wanted a picture taken, but I can't even see it.  Is it an ant?

I love a good before and after shot.  So, below is the flower bed before (actually after one day of weeding, and it still looks pretty bad.)
Then here it is 2 weeks later:
We can see the ground again!

And before:
After weeding:
I'm happy that project worked out and we're done.  Another week we worked on organizing the art drawers.  This week, we have company, so I didn't pick anything to work on, yet.


This year we are studying Ancient World History and one of our first lessons we learned about was archeology.  For our activity that day, I buried toys in the unused garden bed and let the girls do an excavation to find them again.  It actually took them a lot longer to find all the toys than I thought.  I figured 5 minutes max- but it took more like 20 minutes and I had to help find the last 2 toys. 

While they were digging, I thought I'd snap a photo of the few plants that were growing in our garden area- a couple volunteer sunflowers and a couple volunteer ornamental squash plants next to the peach tree we planted this year.  They all were sorry-looking.
Then the girls started finding the toys.
After they found the toys, I had them write about what they found - like an archaeologist would.  Below are their writings.

One day, it was so lovely outside that I packed up all our text books and we headed to the park for our lessons.  We had the whole park to ourselves and the girls stayed focused on their work so they could play.  Again, we had an opportunity to incorporate nature study.  We saw a beautiful orange and black butterfly.

We went out to eat for lunch with my mom.  Again, nature study popped up as we admired the flowers growing by the entrance of the restaurant.
The girls had yummy scones with honey butter.
So, it's nice to have the flexibility to do something extra fun on a whim, and I've really enjoyed that aspect of homeschool. 


We've been using a very popular and highly-recommended math curriculum (Saxon Math).  Amara uses a lot of manipulatives for her learning along with lessons from me and a written practice as well.
Lily has been using the "Robinson approach" to math.  That just means that she works through a math book at her own pace teaching herself by reading the lesson and working through practice problems. 


We also attend a co-op with 4 other homeschooling families.  We meet together for our kids to present to one another something they've learned.  We also have an art lesson and art projects.  And once a month we go on a field trip.  We went swimming at the Vernal pool and it was nice to have it all to ourselves basically.  This month we will head to the Corn Maze.


My girls wanted to learn ballet.  It wasn't all the fun and games they thought it was going to be.  The DVD we use is basically a lot of technique and basic ballet exercises.  10 minutes into the DVD the girls were whining about how tired their legs were and Amara wanted to learn how to spin and leap and didn't want to do more pli'es.  They don't enjoy the DVD.  Ballet class is something we are still tweaking.  Today we ditched the DVD and used a few YouTube tutorials.  At first, the girls were way excited to try the new tutorials, but minutes later, they ended up whining again.  It took a bit of a pep talk from me, but they did pick up their attitudes and practice the soute' and chasse' and are now getting the hang of it.  I honestly could care less if they do ballet, but they want to.  Surprisingly, they will mention to people with the greatest of pride that they are learning ballet.  So, for now, we're sticking with it.
We don't have a barre, so they use a barstool.

My Tech High

The girls are enrolled in a charter school through an online program called My Tech High.  As a part of that, they do educational test-prep computer games to practice for state tests.

They also have an engineering class and they get to build simple machines.
A see-saw

A working swingset


During recesses, we've had some feline visitors (they belong to the neighbors up the street).  They are so cute, but they drive me nuts because I know they're going to get killed by a neighborhood dog or ran over by a car.  I will not allow them in my house or for the girls to feed them, so their welfare has me so anxious every time they're here.  They did sneak into the garage yesterday and leave us a couple smelly gifts if you know what I mean.

The Joys

All in all, home school is going well.  I am really enjoying it.  The girls are really enjoying it.  I've already felt the joy of seeing my kids learn something new and I've marveled at their ability to absorb all they are being taught.  I am also learning as I teach them, and it is really fun.  I feel blessed to be able to see and foster their love for learning.  It is so awarding to be a teacher to my children!

Unrelated side note- the weeds near our driveway are as tall as Lily.  Icky.  And I'm not tackling that project.  I'll let winter kill those beasts.


lilypadhorsepizza said...

Don't worry mom. I took their poop outside with old bags. It doesent stink much any more. I also agree that home school is fun. Mom,are you still reading this? I am not done yet. I love the co-op with friends. You didn't take us to the park today... I forgive you. Keep working hard, Your a great teacher. Then i will concentrate on my math. My favorite thing is nature study and history and our ballet. I've got the soute shasae down. FUN! Am i a good student or middle?

Amanda Lauret said...

So fun to hear about all you guys are doing in home school! I love, love Amara's face in that picture with the scones. :) Ballet is SUPER hard but teaches determination and makes you really strong. Good job Lily and Amara for sticking with it!

lilypadhorsepizza said...

"Reading" is my favorite lesson to do because you go into new worlds and find out what the characters are doing. (Even though dreams are more realistic and you feel what your person is feeling.)