Saturday, September 29, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up Link Up

In Our Homeschool this Week... Chris is writing a sequel to his first "book" ; he's written 16 typed pages (Great job Buddy !) and he wrote a synopsis of his first "book."  He also managed to squeeze in some time to work on his science fair project. 

Katie and Chelsea have been doing a number of mad libs this week.  I love them!  It makes me feel better because we don't use any curriculum for grammar (and I'm not sure we ever will.)  The girls have also spent a lot of time working on their Readers Response Journals (these deserve a separate post, which may happen soon.)

We all have spent time working on our Government/Election Unit.

My Favorite Thing this Week... Decorating the house for Halloween and watching Bentley (1 year old Golden) react to the decorations

My Favorite Resource this Week... Microsoft Word... not for me.... for Chris
He has been using it to write his "book".  The grammar and spell check features are an instant editor and teacher.  When he first began using the computer for his writing, I thought I would never make it through.  He is a perfectionist  and all of the squiggly red and green lines were quite upsetting.  Now the lines are appearing less frequently.  I have noticed an amazing improvement in his writing.

We're Reading...
Chris is reading Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper (The Dark is Rising series #1)

Katie is continuing with the first Warriors series #6.

Chelsea has read The Boxcar Children #9, Magic Puppy New Beginning #1, and Spooky Buddies (movie novelization.)  She is working on Magic Puppy series book 2(while she waits for the next Boxcar Children books to arrive.)

Chris is still reading Gregor the Overlander #3 by Suzanne Collins to the girls, and I am reading Treasure Island (for our book club) to all of them.

I finally finished The One Year Adventure Novel (reading it, not writing it)  I am still very much missing my Kindle.  For those of you who don't know, she finally gave up.  She was 4 and well-loved and well-used.  I miss her terribly (honey, are you reading this ?)  Tomorrow is my birthday...

Places we're Going and People We're Seeing... We met with our homeschool geography club this week.  We are learning about Brazil.  We made Brigadeiros (a Brazilian candy similar to chocolate truffles) to share. 
The girls went to ballet class.
We made an emergency trip to the vet with Sheba (10 year old cat) with a huge unexplained(Bentley??) hematoma on her ear.

Things I'm Working on... We decorated the inside of our house for Halloween. (Does anyone else decorate early/go crazy with decorating for holidays ?)

Friday, September 28, 2012

American Government/Election Unit

After wrapping up our 1600's America unit with a visit to Plimouth Plantation in Ma, I decided to spend some time  learning about our government and the election process.  As with everything else in homeschooling , I began by gathering good books.  These are the books that we will use:

The Voice of the People: American Democracy in Action by Betsy Maestro and Guilio Maestro
Presidential Elections and Other Cool Facts by Syl Sobel
House Mouse Senate Mouse by Peter Barnes and Cheryl Barnes
Marshall the Courthouse Mouse: A Tail of the US Supreme Court Peter Barnes and Cheryl Barnes
Duck for President Doreen Cronin
Woodrow, the White House Mouse Peter Barnes and Cheryl Barnes
Shh, We're Writing the Constitution Elizabeth Levy
The Counterfeit Constitution Mystery Carole Marsh (this is just for fun that I found in my library)

I found two good web sites: Children's Books and Web Sites about US Government
Ben's Guide to US Government for Kids

I originally wanted to have the kids create lapbooks and I found one on Homeschool Share; however one of my kids made some very audible noises, so I improvised.  We used some of the lapbook resources and some information from Ben's Guide to US Government for Kids and made it into a book.( All I did was take the "lap" from book, and we were fine.)

We divided the book into sections:
The Constitution
The Three Branches of Government:
How Laws are Made
Election of the President
Electoral College

We left room in our books to add more information as we study about our government.  As the election draws nearer, Daddy will be in charge of up-to-date current information (he was a political science major.)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Weekly Wrap -Up Link Up

In Our Homeschool this Week: The kids finished reading all of our books about 1600's in America.  They have been working hard on their science fair projects ( we will share when they display them at the science fair).  We've had a light "schoolwork" week, because we've been traveling.  Before we left Maine, we visited a farm with good friends and picked 25 pounds of apples. We also picked our fall pumpkins.
 Yesterday we spent the day at Plimouth Plantation in Massachusetts.  It was a great wrap-up to learning about life in the 1600's in America.  It's a living history museum:

...explore a fortified town that is a re-creation of the Pilgrim settlement as it appeared seven years after the arrival of the Mayflower.  Costumed role players portray the lives of documented residents of 1627 Plymouth.

It was a homeschool day, and there were lots of hands-on activities.  We ground corn and sifted it to make flour ( a tedious process which really made me appreciate our modern conveniences), we kneaded dough, we picked out onion seeds from a flower to harvest, we walked on stilts (o.k. we didn't, but the kids did), and played games that children played in the 1600's.

In addition to the Pilgrim settlement there is a smaller Wampanoag Homesite.  We watched a Wampanoag woman cook turkey over an open fire, played Wampanoag games, and sat around the fire on furs talking to a Wampanoag.

Then we finished our day by visiting The Mayflower 2, a reproduction of the original.  It was an amazing day.  I'm so grateful that my kids are able to learn history with us in this way, instead of the way that I learned history.

My Favorite Thing This Week: traveling and learning with our kids

Our Favorite Resources this Week : The kids love The Magic Tree House Fact Tracker:Pilgrims, and we found A to Z Mysteries Mayflower Treasure Hunt.

We're Reading: Chris has finished The Nicholas Flamel series and has started The Fellowship of the Rings (he has already read The Hobbit )Katie is reading #6 in The Warriors series, Chelsea read The Boxcar Children #6 and has started #7, Chris finished reading Gregor the Overlander # 2 to the girls and has started reading #3 to them.  I have not really read anything this week.  My Kindle finally died (she is/was 4 and was well loved and very well used). 

We're Cooking We're Eating : Not much cooking going on because we're traveling, but I did manage to make an apple pie before we left.  Our favorite dessert on our trip has been cupcakes at Cupcake Charlie's in Plymouth, Ma.  I had an apple pie cupcake ( yes with apple pie filling inside) ; need I say more ?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up Link Up

In Our Homeschool this Week ... In addition to our daily checklists, this week we worked on  researching our geography club country of the month (Brazil), worked on our science fair project, wrote letters to GeeGee (Grandma), and I started working with Chris on writing expository essays.

My Favorite Thing this Week ... going to our friends' house to play, talk, and eat yummy fish chowder and an amazing chocolate harvest cake.

My Favorite Resource this Week ... Schoolhouse Rock DVDs... they make learning fun.  I still remember the songs from Saturday mornings... "I'm Just A Bill", "Conjunction Junction What's Your Function ?"  Does it bring back any memories for anyone ?

We're Reading... In addition to American History book selections, Chris is finishing #6 in The Nicholas Flamel series, Katie read A to Z Mysteries Haunted Hotel and is working on Warriors #5, Chelsea read The Boxcar Children series #4,5.  I read Stages of Homeschooling: Enjoying the Journey (Book 2) by Barbara Frank, and Down the Rabbit Hall: An Echo Falls Mystery by Peter Abrahams.  Chris is still reading Gregor the Overlander #2 to the girls and I'm reading Treasure Island to everyone.

We're Cooking... I'm slowly easing into cooking again.  This week I made meatloaf and lemon parmesan crusted chicken.  Ted grilled the rest of the week.  Have I mentioned how much I'm going to miss him grilling ?

Places We're Going and People We're Seeing... We went to The Chicken Barn which has antiques and LOTS of used books.  It's really in an old chicken barn and I could curl up and read in there all day.  We also went to our local library and a new playground.

Things I'm working on... Getting ready for our camping trip next week to Plimouth Plantation in Massachusetts. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

O.K. So Maybe I'm Not An Unschooler

I first began homeschooling five years ago. Before becoming a mom I had been an elementary school teacher .  So when we began our homeschooling journey, I had already wrestled with a lot of questions involving my teaching philosophy.  Are you chuckling yet?  Do you know where this is going?  I didn't know anything (I did/do know lots about teaching methodologies/philosophies etc.), BUT I didn't know the important things.

  I spent our first year recreating school at home.  We had fun and we learned a lot.  But...I had a vague unrest- nothing I could put into words, but we weren't where I wanted us or thought we should be (I don't mean academically.)  At the end of the year my son had tested three grade levels ahead.  Yes, I was proud of him/us but... My goal was to create lifelong learners.  I wanted my kids to love reading, writing, and learning.  They loved to read and write, but did they love to learn?  Were they just working to make me happy ?

 I have always loved to read and write, but formal schooling killed my curiosity and love of learning.  It took me a long time to get it back.  Guess who helped?  My kids, of course.

 The next year I relaxed a little, and when the twins were kindergarten age, I had to relax even more.  They wanted to play instead of "school", so big brother wanted to play.  We read, and played, and read and played.  We didn't use any formal curriculum.  They were learning,... I was an unschooler.  I knew they were learning, but I didn't feel any better than the first year when we sat at a table to do schoolwork.  They were happy, but I wanted unbridled joy and enthusiasm ( I have always been a bit of an over-achiever.)

Last week I saw it.  I saw the unbridled joy, enthusiasm, and love of learning in all of my kids.  Does that mean I've figured out my label? Nope! Does it matter? Nope! What matters is that their love of learning is still there, and I saw it.  The trick is to create more opportunities for it to shine through.

 When someone asks me about homeschooling, I always grapple with my answers.  I don't use curriculum, I like some structure, I like parts of unschooling, throw some Charlotte Mason in there...  So what am I? I think we as homeschoolers try to categorize ourselves so that we can define ourselves, and others can get a quick snapshot of who we are as homeschoolers. I am eclectic, but not sure I want the label.  I don't know what I am.  But I do know that it doesn't matter what your label is, what matters is keeping their love of learning alive.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up Link Up

In Our Homeschool this Week... In addition to the kids' regular checklist of activities ( see A Day in the Life post) we worked on "Last Days of Summer Outdoor Challenge 2012" ( thanks Barb at A Handbook of Nature Study blog), finished our summer photo books, and started working on our science fair projects ( a homeschool mom friend is hosting a small science fair), and we went to see the movie "The Odd Life of Timothy Green" (during school hours :o)).

My Favorite Thing this Week... The kids have been adamant about checking off every box in "The Last Days of Summer Outdoor Challenge", so last night we ate dinner outside, listened to crickets, played flashlight tag, made shadow puppets with flashlights, watched the stars, saw a bat, told ghost stories, and roasted marshmallows.  It was lovely.

We're Reading... Chris is finishing the last book in The Nicholas Flamel series, Katie is reading Warriors series #5, Chelsea has read The Boxcar Children series #1,2, and is working on #3.  Chris is reading Gregor the Overlander #2 to the girls.  I'm still reading The One Year Adventure Novel,  and I need to start reading Treasure Island to the kids (this is their homeschool book club book for this month.)

I'm Cooking... Ted is still grilling, but I'll be taking over cooking again soon.  I did make popovers twice this week though.

Places we're Going and People We're Seeing... The kids started their watercolor class this week and Katie and Chelsea are starting ballet Friday. 

Things I'm Working on... trimming trees and getting ready for fall.  What are you doing to get ready for fall ?


Monday, September 3, 2012

"Who Home Schools?" My Interview

Today I am over at Savannah McQueen's blog Hammock Tracks.  
I was surprised and happy to learn that she wanted to feature me in her weekly column, "Who Home Schools?""  

To read my interview click here: My Interview 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up Link Up

In Our Homeschool this Week:  We only had school three days this week.  We are slowly getting back into our routine.  My favorite school activity this week was making summer "books."  Every year I print out our summer pictures and the kids each make their own scrapbook.  It's always fun and it's nice to remind hubby on those cold winter days how beautiful Maine is in the summer (I think Maine is perfect in all seasons; hubby needs convincing in the winter.) 

My Favorite Thing this Week: We had a impromptu get-together with friends and did lovely touristy things.  We played miniature golf, had popovers at Jordon Pond (Acadia National Park), dinner overlooking Bar Harbor, and ice cream (at a place that has lobster ? ice cream; no one was brave enough to try it.)

We're Reading: I'm still reading The One Year Adventure Novel.  Chris is reading The Alchemyst series #5, Katie is reading Warriors series #5, Chelsea just finished Magic Tree House #48, Chris is reading Gregor The Overlander series #2 to Katie and Chelsea, and Katie and Chelsea are buddy reading Bunnicula to Daisy the bunny.

Places We're Going and People We're Seeing:   My brother and sister-in-law and kids came to visit from Connecticut.  We had a great time relaxing and playing in the lake.

Things I'm Working on:  I'm trying to pull together an election/government/ electoral college unit.  I found some good books, but I'd like to do a lap book.  Does anyone know of any good resources ?