Monday, September 28, 2009

Week 6

We finished our two week study of Mexico and Central America this week by learning more about the desert ecosystem and by doing more Mexican crafts.

We made Tissue Paper Flowers to decorate for our fiesta. I'm not sure that we did them correctly, but they were good enough for us.

We also made a Bean Bracelet and Sand Art (more Native American than Mexican).
Gabriel's sun.
Christopher made his sand art in the shape of the Washington, DC Metro tracks, complete with the colors of the different Metro lines. He has been very interested in all things DC Metro subway ever since our vacation to DC in April. We have MANY maps and lists of the Metro lines and stations made by Christopher all over the place. Some of the big ones take over our floors while he works on them. Should we ever go to DC again, we won't need a map of the stations because Christopher has them all memorized!
Matthew's sand art is in the shape of Jupiter.

We also made a pinata for our fiesta but it didn't work out. We set it outside to dry and the balloon ended up deflating and the newspaper all fell apart. We used an idea from another homeschooler's blog for a simple pinata.

We also made Clay Sun Faces. Again, this didn't work very well. Most of them fell apart when the kids handled them, but it was still fun for the kids to do.

Finally, we had our Mexican Fiesta to celebrate what we learned in the past two weeks. We waited until Sunday because Chris was TDY to Key West from Thursday until Sunday afternoon. Our menu consisted of chips with guacamole, chicken and cheese quesadillas, chicken flautas, beans, rice, and Mexican corn. The kids did great with trying everything but I did make things that I thought they'd actually like. The guacamole wasn't a hit with the boys, but Chris, Leah and I love it.

After dinner, the boys had fun breaking open the pinata. Poor Chase (our dog) ran in front of Gabe at the last minute and got hit! Luckily it was Gabe with the bat and the bat was a foamy material.

Another fun thing that happened this week was Christopher received a letter from the President! He wrote to President Obama in May as an assignment for school, so this has been long awaited.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Gluey Day

We've gotten a little behind on our art activities, but I went to the store yesterday and bought all the materials that we've needed and didn't have, so we'll be doing lots of crafts in the coming days. We have to get ready for our Mexican Fiesta on Sunday when we finish our study on Mexico.

Here, Christopher is making his yarn art. He gave up on the house and made Saturn instead.

Matthew made a colorful moon.

Gabriel made a sun. With a LOT of help from Mommy. He cut the yarn and told me the colors to use and I glued and placed the yarn down.

It took longer and was more difficult than I thought it would be. It needed a lot of glue to get stuck to the paper and not to our fingers. People in Mexico did this sort of art but they use wax instead of glue.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Week 5

Well that month of school just kind of flew by!
We are on to studying Mexico and Latin America countries in Exploring Cultures and Countries. The boys were given their faux passports and we flew around our house (all of us holding our arms out as if we were the airplane!) follow-the-leader style until we landed back at the dining table. Through out the flight, Christopher made sure he announced when we passed over the Rio Grande river. Flying from Texas, we really didn't have too far to go.

We are learning all about desert ecosystems. Seeing how we went from drought conditions to getting rain nearly everyday for a week, it wasn't really good timing for the desert study. Things are actually GREEN-ish around here for the first time all year. And we've said good-bye and good riddance to the 100 degree days that kept us indoors for most of the summer. It's still clear enough in our memories that we can remember what desert weather feels like though. We also listened to some Spanish music on our "Wee Sing Around the World" music cd. We are to keep studying Mexico and Central America next week and maybe we'll listen to one of the many spanish music stations that we get.
We started playing a geography game where Christopher has to know the location of every country of the continant we are studying. He did great, only missing two out of all about 15 or so countries of North America. Me...not so well!
Christopher is reading and studying the book of Matthew this school year. Each week he has a memory verse that is from the book of Matthew and we are locating the places we read about in the Bible on our Bible map. It brings us even closer to Jesus by actually following his path of travels with our fingers.

Christopher with the bookmark he made with the name "Matthew" written out in Greek letters.

We'll also start reading about missionary Cameron Townsend once we catch up with our reading of "Kingdom Tales". I think he'll enjoy the non-fiction reading much more.

We finally did our "Apple Doll" project. Well, we've started it anyways. First we had to peel an apple and carve a simple face into the side. Then we baked it on low all day and now we have to let it finish drying out in the sun for a few days. Well, it's gotten rained on a couple of times so there's no telling when it will be dried out enough or if it will just get nasty and need to be thrown away. Poor dolls!

Matthew's moving right along with learning new vowel sounds. I don't think you really understand how complicated our language is until you have to learn it or teach it. I really feel bad telling him a rule and then explaining that some words don't follow the rule and you just have to keep trying out vowel sounds until it sounds right. He's doing well though and amazes me with how quickly he picks it up.

Gabriel continues to want copies of everything his brothers do. I've pretty much decided that I will start him with the kindergarten work next year (he'll be 4 3/4) but still keep him on track grade wise. So he'll be in pre-k but be doing kinder work and go at his pace. As much as I think "the later the better" regarding starting kids with formal school, he really wants to be doing what his brothers are and sits at the table with us everyday, answering questions I ask Matthew about reading . He still talks about how he "always wanted to be a Cubbie" in Awana and I think it's because it's the first thing he's done that his brothers have done. He's such a cutie.

Leah is still working on walking and talking. She amazes me with her vocabulary, although it's still all one-word things that she says. She'll repeat anything we say. Her favorite words are still "ball", "bubble", "dog" ("woof woof") "baby", "Daddy", "Mama" and now she says "eat", "brother", "duck" quite a bit too. But there are many many more that she'll say if we say to her, "say _____".

We are taking a trip to Houston in two weeks to visit with Chris' sister, brother in law and our neice who just turned two who will be there from Florida. I was hoping Leah would be walking by then (she's 16 months now) but I guess she can still have fun with Caroline just crawling around. We'll be staying in a hotel and I hate to think about her crawling on the floor there!
There is going to be a "Homeschool Day" at the Houston Space Center that we will be going to while there, so what a fun field trip!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Week 4

Chris didn't have to work on Monday (Labor Day), so after doing school in the morning (no day off or it messes up our schedule!) we took a (field) trip to Guadalupe River State Park for a lunch picnic and swimming. The kids all had a great time and with the drought here in south Texas, the river was the perfect depth for the kids to play in without being able to go too deep. Gabriel still insisted on wearing his life vest, which was fine with me. The river bed was covered with small rocks and dams had been built up everywhere by other kids, so there was almost no current in the water. Leah was happy to play in the water and throw rocks. The boys made islands with the smaller rocks and thought it was fun to cross the river since it was so shallow. We even brought our dog Chase and made him go in the water. He didn't like it at first (he's had some bad water experiences before...his first water experience was at my Grandma's lake property in Michigan when he walked right off the dock into the water!) but once I pulled him in and he saw that he could touch, he was fine.

We also went on a short hike through the woods, which goes along with out study about forests, but with this pregnancy complication I have, I'm not supposed to exert myself or exercise, so we didn't go too far. We were actually looking for a fishing spot but didn't find one. We did find several horseback riders with their horses that the kids thought were neat but our dog did not and kept barking at them, very annoying but I suppose he was trying to protect us from the huge "beasts".

Speaking of the baby earlier, we did find out that "it" is a GIRL! We're so excited; it will be fun for Leah to have a sister, and it's practical also as they will surely be sharing bedrooms thoughout their childhoods.

The rest of the week of school went well. Christopher is still learning about the United States in Geography. He's really enjoying his spelling and asks to do it first. We use Spelling Power so he only has to study the words that he misses as we test one time through. Then we add those missed words to the next days list. He liked doing the workbook pages last year in Spelling by Sound and Structure and missed them at first, but it makes sense to study only words that you don't know how to spell and Spelling Power isn't reccomended until third grade.
We are learning about Christian heroes in the book Hero Tales and we read about Harriet Tubman this week. Christopher loves this book and I do as well.

We finally did Matthew's worm experiment from a few weeks ago in MFW First Grade. We didn't use separate layers of sand and dirt as instructed, but of the five worms we put in the jar, only one of them died at the top by the next day. When I opened the lid to check on them, it was really stinky and I stuck the jar outside and haven't checked it since. Poor worms. Matthew had a great time putting the worms into the jar though.

Matthew is continuing to learn the long vowel sounds in his phonics studies. I can't say enough how much I love this curriculum that we are using. I am surprised everyday at how easy it is for me to teach and for Matthew to learn.

We started our REACH homeschool c0-op at my church this Friday. It's three hours every Friday morning and we all really enjoy it. Christopher brought home bug containers to collect bugs in for his "All About Bugs" class. He was also excited about what he learned in his "Rocket Science" and "Money Sense" classes. I didn't even think to tell him that he'd have to find his next class on his own, but he did fine. They wear name tags that have their classes each hour on them and he just found someone who had the same class as him. I'm sure he'd have gotten help if he was wandering around anyways.

I'm teaching science for the 3 year old class and the 4 year old class. We did color mixing this week and using paint with 3 year olds wasn't exactly "taking it easy" like I'm supposed to be doing. I was sore for the rest of the day. We will be toning it down for sure for future weeks. There are twelve kids in each class with three teachers, so I had help for it at least.

Normally, we will do school late on Friday, but this week we ended up not, I'm not sure the reason. We don't have a lot to do on Fridays anyways, it is our "light day" for Christopher in ECC and Matthew's lessons are so short anyways. We'll just have extra to do next week.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Week 3

It's crazy how quickly these three weeks have gone by, but we are having fun. In ECC, we've started our travels of the United States. Exciting, huh? It'll get better once we travel outside of where we actually live. I suspected, but have now confirmed, that Christopher can label all 50 of the states on a blank US map. I remember taking a test like that in 4th grade and knowing maybe a third of the states! We are still learning more about how to read maps using hemispheres, latitude and longitude, and grids and different types of maps. Christopher is still really into all that stuff. This week was also spent learning about forests, most specifically deciduous forests since that's what grows in the U.S. mainly (trees that change color in the fall).

We've been reading a book called Kingdom Tales, which is a fantasy type book (I think) that's message is about God's kingdom. Christopher really did not like it at first, but we read a chapter everyday and I think he's getting more into it. Today was my favorite chapter and the message it had was that we are all our own greatest enemies. Explaining that to the kids was great, and they really understood, which is a plus!

We've also been reading a delightful book called Hero Tales that is non-fiction and has stories about Christians with an emphasis on character qualities. We've ready about Dwight Moody for a few days now and we all enjoy this book a lot. It's great to talk about character qualities with the kids.

We had to choose a North American craft from "Global Art", our art book and have decided on a homemade apple doll toy. Now, to set about actually making one (or three rather, since all the boys want one.) We are also a little behind with two science experiments for Matthew. This was my M.O. for science experiments last year and we always ended up catching up every few weeks.

One thing to note, I have a complication with my current pregnancy (subchorionic hemorrhage) that requires a lot of resting (to slow the chronic bleeding), so scheduled nature walks and other non-restful things have to be put off until Chris can do them with the kids. Not to mention it's so stinkin' hot down here still!

Christopher has completed his cursive writing lessons and will now move onto practice and hopefully he'll be writing his assignments in cursive soon.

Matthew's plugging along well in his first grade studies. We now do one reading/writing lesson a day and it's quite a bit of writing so Matthew isn't caring to work ahead anymore. He does do more than he has to for math still though. In reading, he is learning the long vowel sounds now. He is doing awesome and I can't believe how well this is going. I always expected it to be more frustrating for both of us. Christopher learned to read on his own when he was four years old and I'm so thankful that I didn't try to make Matthew follow suit, as I'm sure he was not ready then and is 100% ready now. These little minds amaze me. Christopher and Matthew are almost attached at the hip and are alike in many ways, but have a lot of wonderful differences also. It makes me sad for kids in school who are expected to learn these things on the school's schedule and not their own.

Anyways, we did get a bit thrown off this week with having our monthly MOPS meeting yesterday. Matthew and Christopher go to a homeschooling room and I did sent their math and some other assignments for Christopher to complete, but there's much more to the day than that. Luckily our Fridays are 'light' school days so it wasn't hard to catch up today.

Next week starts both Awana and Co-op on Wednesday evenings and Friday mornings respectively. The kids have done great with Matthew's "Proverb to Remember" this week (with the help of a chocolate chip for a good effort). We'll see how learning verses at both home and Awana works out for the kids, especially Matthew. Even Gabriel will be starting Cubbies this year. At home, I never know when he will cry over being asked to say the Bible verse, so I'm wondering also how he will do with learning one verse a week for Cubbies!

Co-op is an awesome program for home schoolers that is held at our church. I can't imagine a better run program. This is the first year that Christopher got to choose the classes he wants to take and his three choices are: Rocket Science, All About Bugs, and Money Sense. His classes will be a mix of 3rd through about 6th graders I believe. Matthew and Gabriel both stay with their own grade. Matthew's class this semester has the following subjects: Solar System, Patriotism, Music, Poetry, PE , and Show & Tell. He is very excited, especially with learning more about the Solar System, although I'm really not sure that he doesn't already know everything!
Gabriel's class this semester has the following subjects: Circle Time, Bible Lesson, Science, Playground, Show & Tell, Storytime, and Arts & Crafts. Yours truly is the science teacher for both Gabe's class and the 4/5 year olds class.
Leah will be hanging out with the other one year olds in her class, just chillin' or whatever it is that a group of one year olds do. Maybe all of the walkers will rub of on her. She's fifteen months now and is getting there, slowly but surely. (Many of you don't know that she had hip dysplasia as a newborn and was in a body cast until she was six months old...not so easy to learn physical abilities that way!)

The older two boys have also started Cub Scouts on Monday evenings. They had a great time this week, even after Christopher balked at having to go (he's not into trying new things).
I've started an every-other-Tuesday evening Bible study on the book of Daniel. I already know that I love it after the first week.

So our school year is picking up and hopefully it doesn't get too crazy for us. We also have OCF (Officer's Christian Fellowship) on Thursday evenings. At least everyone but me have off Tuesday evenings and the Cub Scouts and Awana don't require me to go this year. I usually help out, but hey, I'm making a baby here!