Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Day in Our Lives

The alarm went off at 6:10. It felt a bit early, because Cory and I had been up late discussing Super K and Dash. I said my prayers, thanking God for guiding us in the direction to work with the boys, then turned on their light and began putting away laundry. Super K got up and took his clothes to the bathroom, but Dash stayed wrapped in a blanket. I laid his favorite clothes beside him, told him to get dressed, then went out and mostly closed the door. Our laundry is close to the boys' room, so I kept putting away laundry. Dash came out fully dressed and frowning. "I'm dressed, but I'm never getting on the bus!" I recognized some of the stresses of the school year and an active boy in a strict teacher's classroom. I sat on the couch with him and he let me put my arms around him. I told him I knew how hard he was working to do well in school this year, and Dad and I had decided to sign him up for a boys' gymnastics class. Then I did prayers with him, thanking God for the same things we had just talked about. After that Dash got his shoes and backpack on and had time for a granola bar before catching the bus. Super K, who had spent so long with his clothes in the bathroom just missed his. Fortunately Dad had time to drop him off.
By this time Little Nephi was awake and wanted a granola bar just like Dash. I told him after he used the toilet and got in his daytime clothes, that would be fine. "Venga, vamos," and we went downstairs to "la cocina."
Meanwhile Mia was getting dressed. She cuddled up to me and I said, "!Buenos dias!" I had just been listening to our Play and Learn Spanish CD, trying to grasp the words for waking up with children. I pointed to the window and said "Mira, es de dia," (Look, it's daytime). Then I suggested we got to "la cocina" ("does that mean kitchen?") for "desayunar." When we got there, the last morning word I could think of was "la mesa" for table, and our Spanglish lesson was done.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Playing with Frogs

My debutante poses with the adorable frog.
We had a good rainstorm this week. Maybe that's why the children were able to catch two frogs and one lizard in one afternoon--poor things.
I insisted the creatures not come closer than the front porch (which rule was tested several times). So the children played on the covered porch while it rained all around them, and played with the little animals lovingly, if a bit clumsily.
By the end of the afternoon, the lizard had disappeared, and the frogs were stiffly unresponsive. The children insisted they were just resting.
I might have to discourage this kind of nature involvement in the future--for the happiness of the local bugs, lizards, and amphibians.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Personal Scripture Study

It makes sense for personal scripture study to be, well, personal. I got Super K into marking his scriptures a few weeks ago by telling him which verses he would read, and how I thought he should mark them. It was a great start, but as a parent, a little high maintenance.

Super K chose to "illustrate" Moses 2:28 with a
hand-drawn black widow and a buffalo.
 Now he gets out his scriptures and I hand him the pouch of colored pencils. I tell him what to read, then he lets loose with his imagination in deciding what to highlight. On the sixth day of creation, I might have drawn a stick figure to emphasize the creation of man--he skipped that minor detail, and chose to illustrate a couple of the animals he was proud to have "dominion" over.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Scripture Marking: Moses Chapter 1

I wish I could remember which LDS blog I recently stumbled across that had a post on how her children marked their scriptures. I can't. Sorry. But it's been a great inspiration in doing scripture-time with Super K, age 8.
I looked ahead at the scriptures, and broke things down into pieces of the story that he can easily read in one sitting. I tell him how far to read. He does so. Then I open my scriptures to the same place and show him how I marked my scriptures. We keep colored pencils in a pencil pouch, and he spends more time marking some days than he does reading. Now that we're a few pages into this, he's getting excited, and I admit, so am I.

Read Moses 1:1-11;
on vs. 1 draw mountains (i.e.-two inverted "v"s),
on vs. 4, underline "thou art my son"
Read Moses 1:12-23
on vs. 13, underline "I am a son of God . . . Only Begotten,"
on vs. 22, use red to draw a simple angry face (to show Satan's tantrum)
Read Moses 1: 24-35
on verse 33, draw a planet with rings
Read Moses 1:36-42
draw a red box around vs. 39 (scripture mastery);
vs. 41, draw an open book

This took us four sittings to get through, although I must say I think he could read more in one sitting than I've asked of him so far.
Oh, and the Book of Moses we're using is in "The Pearl of Great Price." To read it online, click here.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Charlotte Mason on Outdoor Living

Beginning our nature walk.

This summer, I began reading Home Education by Charlotte Mason, kindle edition.
Speaking of how much time children should spend outdoors, Mason says "long hours they should be; not two, but four, five, or six hours they should have on every tolerably fine day, from April till October" (page 40, location 816). She encouraged playing outside, eating outside, napping and science and French lessons outside.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Minding Manners at Church

Note: Perhaps this proud parenting moment would be less obnoxious to readers if it was written in my journal. As I neglected to bring my journal on vacation, I need another outlet. So I apologize in advance if you came to read something besides this. 

I love seeing my children play together. Sometimes that play needs a lot of Parental Peacemaking, as their interests and abilities overlap so much. For example, two children often want to play with the same toy or game at the same time. A few months ago, I began addressing those conflicts with a gentle-but-firm voice: "After so-and-so does this, then you may have a turn."

Yesterday we were visiting a different church congregation. I was obligated to stay in Primary Sharing Time (children's class) to help Dash and Little Nephi stay. The music leader had just called on "Maddy" to lead "Follow-the-Leader." Mia raised her hand and articulately said, "After Maddy has a turn, may I please have a turn?" while the other 5-year olds jumped up and down saying "Me too! Me too!"

Meanwhile I'm experiencing parental awe--the kind that comes when your child unexpectedly does something flawlessly right--you know, the way you taught her.

Life is good.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Around the World in 180 Days

There are 180 days in a standard school year. If you're teaching five days a week, then school will last for 36 weeks. I felt so enlightened when I discovered that. I can't plan 180 days of activities, but I can plan 36 sets of them.
That's how I've organized my curriculum: 36 sets of five days.
I sat down to estimate how many weeks I would spend in Africa, China, Australia, and so forth. Then I checked: did it add up?
That was my rough draft.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Target Dollar Bins

I love back-to-school shopping. Here are my treasures from the Target dollar bins:
landmark flashcards
I've actually written each of these flash cards into our curriculum for the year; planning to add new ones when we are studying that area of the world.
insect flashcards
US animals flashcards
Science this year is mostly nature based, and my kids love picture-based flashcards.

abridged versions of Polyanna and Heidi
Despite general objections to abridged classics, I bought these. If we progress as much in reading as I hope to this year, Mia is going to finish our stash of early readers and be ready for more. Besides which, Polyanna and Heidi are both good role models. They are reverent, respect the elderly, loving and cheerful. Virtues I want ingrained at a young age.
small addition and subtraction booklets
alright--if you have a proper math curriculum, why buy more? All I can say is I've wasted more on lesser causes.

You may also want to stock up on markers, crayons, colored pencils, glue, construction paper . . . anything you might use this year while the fabulous sales are going.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Marble Set Reprise

Little Nephi was pleading with me to build with him again, but I was in the mood for my morning shower. When I came out, he proudly showed me what he built all by himself. With careful comparison to the diagram booklet of sample projects, I saw that he had exactly copied the simplest (15 piece) marble set. I see a future as an engineer. A very successful future. He'll make the fourth generation.

All Over the World: Curriculum Objectives

I've spent weeks this summer working on a pet project: a new homeschool curriculum. Inspired by everything from Classical Education models to Charlotte Mason's ideas (I've read the originals, not heresay) to the Sonlight Curriculum to K12 Kindergarten (which I've also taught). This was being written for a somewhat advanced 5/6 year old, with little brother in-tow. It could also be used for a 6/7 year old, or possibly a little older depending on your child and expectations.

My Objectives:
Provide a solid foundation in Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.
Create a love for people all over the world.
Develop spirituality and a missionary heart.
Create refinement through the arts: fine art lessons, piano lessons, music appreciation, poetry and literature.
Increase enjoyment of nature through exposure and knowledge.

Stay tuned for a list of core materials and an overview of the year!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Learning with Marbles

You know those preschool worksheets. The kind that have children matching household objects with a line or color that specific flower that specific color. They always have an "objective" at the top. "Following directions," or "colors," glorifies the simplistic worksheet.
Little Nephi asked me, again, to build a marble set with him. That's when those objectives hit me.

Preschool Objectives for Building Marble Sets:
spatial reasoning
review colors: red, yellow, blue, and green
position relations: "The green slide goes under the red straight. The blue straight goes between the red slide and the green slide."
following directions: "Put the blue funnel there."
teamwork: "Take turns with your sister."

Conclusion: Parents who play with their children have smarter children.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Latter-day Homeschooling

I have now added the Latter-day Homeschooling button to my side-bar.
Here's to synergy!

Embroidery for Kids

Since his first and last sewing lesson over a year ago, Dash has been begging me to let him sew or embroider a second project. Most of his ideas are a bit too ambitious for a half-pint of seven.
Then we went to visit Grandma.
On Grandma's wall hangs a little embroidery image of a paper airplane. There was our project idea.
Shown is Dash's finished project, with supplies.