We’ve been back to school for about a month, I wanted to share how homeschool life is going. I love the posts where other homeschoolers share what they aspire to each day — and that’s what this post is. Not that everything on the list get checked off, but if we were to have an ideal day it might look something like this (this is the list that floats around our dining room table and the homeschool room):
Again, in case you’re starting to sweat — no, we don’t always get to all of this. But having things written down does give us something to aspire to!
Rotations (Typing, German, Piano Practice): As the kids have gotten older, I’ve tried to give them more independence in their schoolwork. This year we instituted rotations… and that is really going well!! The kids have a timer which they set for 10 minutes. They spend 10 minutes typing, 10 minutes working on German and 10 minutes practicing the piano. I just remind them to do their rotations, but they fit it into their day whenever they can/want. DD, for example, likes to get up and get started on these. LD likes to take his time and read (for a long time!) while eating breakfast. He often does rotations after lunch or at the end of our school day.
We are using an actual typing book (not an online typing game such as the free online typing program: Dance Mat Typing or a typing software program. I want to keep them on task — just 10 minutes of practice every single day — and sometimes they could play on those games for 30-45 minutes). We borrowed a typing book from the library called Kids Can Type Too which I really, really like! (See the picture above). Unfortunately, it’s an old book (from 1987) so it might not be around in your area. I find it very kid-friendly and the kids just move along from lesson to lesson without ANY input from me.
I made the kids a huge packet of German worksheets and at this point they are simply working through those:
See this post for more free German worksheets for kids.
We are also going to be reading through some children’s German books this year. I have both the book and CD (for the kids to listen to during Rotations) and I’ll be making them worksheets based on these wonderful book! We read through just the first story recently.
Read Aloud Time: Our family always has a number of books going. Right now the kids and I are reading Because of Winn Dixie at lunch. DD and LD are reading Harry Potter with Hubby at night and the girls and I have been reading the Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH whenever we get a chance. Meanwhile, ED and I have been reading some of the American Girl books at night. We just started Marisol last night.
Independent Reading: The kids also spend time reading their own books during the day. ED and I spend (more!) time reading together at some point as well.
Math: Math is just continuing on from where we stopped in the summer. I suspect it’ll be another 6 weeks or so and then they’ll move up to their next book. I feel like I talk about ED’s math all the time, so I won’t spend time here writing about that (or click here to visit some of her kindergarten math activities).
Writing: Our writing time has become a true joy in our homeschool. All three kids meet up at our writing workshop area. We usually read a children’s book together, have a short mini-lesson about a certain topic and then move on to quiet writing time. They all grab the date stamp which they LOVE stamping in their writing journal and then set to work. DD has been writing a very long, involved story about a dragon. She generally writes two pages or so a day! LD has always been my reluctant writer, but since we changed things up, he’s been pretty positive about writing lately. Wow! Even ED spends time writing. She draws a picture in her journal and writes one sentence below. I’ve been wanting to write a whole series of posts about what we’ve been doing and the turn-around I’ve seen in writing time… I just have felt daunted getting that down on paper (so to speak!). I’ll try to write up a longer post (or two or three) about our writing workshop time soon.
Grammar: I feel like I’ve gotten the independent writing part down, but we’ve really only been doing grammar the past few weeks (and haven’t yet started back with the wonderful spelling program we use (All About Spelling).) We added a new grammar book into the mix and are going through the Critical Thinking Company’s book Editor in Chief. Since the approach is a little different from our normal work (Write Source) I opted for the beginning level. I’m glad I did because even though I feel like LD should know everything, he’s been tripped up. Anyway, I highly recommend it. It’s good practice having the kids look for mistakes within a paragraph (looking for a certain number of capital letters that need to be corrected or looking for a question mark and a comma that need to be added in, etc.) Two thumbs up for this book!
Collection (Science/Geography/History): I’ve written a little bit about what we’ve tackled for collection lately. We just finished a unit on American History and geography this past Friday. (Here’s a post about our American history and geography activities.) I went over the US Constitution and the way our government works for a little over a week. They watched one of the last episodes of Liberty’s Kids (We the People — about the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia). Liberty’s Kids is another resource I highly, highly recommend if you are doing early American History! You might check to see if your library has it (ours does).
I mentioned last week about the neat units I found on the Center for Disease Control’s website called the Science Ambassador Program. The kids did their own research and created their own poster project on the West Nile Virus. We’re doing one more unit (more about that probably later this week) because I just love some of the skills the kids have had to develop — research, writing, graphing, presentations, etc.
Daily Special: The other new thing I added to the schedule was our “daily special” — ie. art, music, German (that’s when we read stories aloud), critical thinking. Things that are valuable and that I really want to squeeze into their week. So far, we’ve only hit one of these a week! (Gulp!)… So, in the past 4 weeks we’ve done one lesson each. That’s in part because the kids and I were working on a folk song that we just performed. The kids were super cute!
I wrote a post about our first day of art here. The kids had a lot of fun — and I mentioned some of the resources we’ll be using this year in art.
For critical thinking skills we’ll be using some of the material I mentioned a year or two ago that we still have on hand (Visit this post on our Critical Thinking Activities: Sudoku puzzles, analogies, logic puzzles) and we also added in a really terrific book from the Critical Thinking Company called Building Thinking Skills.
As you can see, I’m really talking more about what my 3rd and 5th grader are doing. ED will join in on some of these things but she does a lot of playing/reading with me. She also spends some time watching “school movies” such as the Magic School Bus, the Time Warp Trio, Grossology and some things like that when I need to work with the older two.
Well, I’d better bring this post to a close. There’s so much more I’d talk about (what we’ll be delving into next), but this post is already a lot longer than I intended to make it.