Our General Homeschooling
Both DD and LD are good readers now. DD is reading easier chapter books while LD is on longer chapter books now.
They both get up in the morning and read while eating breakfast. I always sprinkle our dining room room table with books (Caldecott books, non-fiction books, books for ED). Lots of reading happens from having enticing books placed in key positions. This probably adds to the clutter, but they sure do pick up a lot of books.
I’ve been trying to find books that really draw DD in. Someone mentioned the Animal Ark series and boy did the kids go nuts when this lot arrived:
I paid $19.95 for 30+ books (left) on ebay. DD started reading the first one, Kittens in the Kitchen right away. I generally make sure she has read two chapters each day from her chapter book. She reads lots of other stuff throughout the day as well.
The kids still read the Horrible History and Horrible Science magazines a lot.
And we usually have about 50 books out from the library at a time!
|At the time I took this picture this is what we were reading. LD and I were reading Hatchet. DD (and LD) and I were reading Misty of Chincoteague. DD was reading the Secrets of Droon on her own and LD was reading Warriors Into the Wild on his own.|
ED is not reading and so we read lots of books together. In fact, the first things that happen in the morning are starting the fire in the woodstove, coffee and read aloud books with ED while she eats breakfast and then in front of the fire. The older kids get up later than ED does. ED is not especially engaged by letters and reading in the same way the others were at this age, but she’s comfortable with her letters and letter sounds. I usually review a couple letters/sounds while we read, pointing out how one or two words are formed. These past few weeks we’ve left it at that.
DD is doing really well with Saxon 2, though I find it progresses rather slowly. Rather than skipping ahead in the lessons, I supplement that with other addition work from other sources and with games. I’ll have to reassess that in the next month or so, but for the moment I love the fact that DD went from saying she didn’t like math to now saying that math is her favorite subject. She always chooses to do math first.
LD is using Saxon Math (4/5) as well. It’s challenging for him (but a good fit, I think). We switch between Saxon one day and other stuff (Spectrum Math, multiplication, division, addition and/or subtraction work) on the next. I also add in two word problems a day. Here is the link to the
Multiplication and Division Word Problems. It’s from 1877 and no long in copyright. I copied and pasted problems into a document and then printed them out. We just check off a couple each day. Here are a couple examples:
- George owed me 19 cents: he gave me 2 oranges, worth 5 cents each, and the remainder in money: how much money did I get?
- There are 7 days in a week: how many days are there in 4 weeks?
- How many kites, at 9 cents each, can you buy for 18 cents?
ED does lots of spontaneous counting and she always wants to “do math” (activities from her workboxes like counting with manipulatives, etc.) while I’m working with the other kids.
Writing and Spelling:
We use All About Spelling daily.
We use Handwriting Without Tears twice a week or so.
We use First Language Lessons about twice a week.
We do free writing about once a week.
We use Writing Source one to three times a week.
Again, ED has activities she can choose from her workboxes. She often does her “spelling” (Melissa and Doug) while I work with the other kids.
We started back up with music classes a couple of weeks ago after a very long break. We do a kindermusik-type class for ED and her friends (mostly age 4) with dancing, instruments, circle dances, listening, etc.
We also started up the “older class” and this term we’re doing Appalachian music and square dancing. Believe it or not, I found this Barney video to be just perfect for them! (I didn’t show them the video, we just are learning to do-si-do and so forth.)
DD is learning the piano and LD has begged and begged and begged to learn trumpet. We got him a new mouthpiece for Daddy’s old trumpet and he’s really taken off with it. I have never played a brass instrument, but for now have figured out enough to teach him the basics. For now he’s also continuing with the piano.
German: We continue to add various themes to our German lessons. We seem to do German about three times a week. We’ve done greetings, colors, things around the room (table, window, pencil, chair), clothes and animals.
This is America: Symbols and Landmarks: We have more or less finished this unit for now. We ended with a study of the regions of the US… and spent time learning what states were in the Northeast, South, Mid West and so forth.
Human Body: The kids finished their copywork for the topics we covered so far this year: the skeleton, heart, brain, joints. I think we’re about ready to set this aside for a while and delve into something new.
Habitats/Biomes: This semester we’ve done oceans and deserts. These units were originally intended more for ED, but the other kids always jump right in too. The kids want to learn about the rainforest next (though we’ve studied this before, they’re insisting we study this one next).
Owls: We’ll probably start a quick unit on owls.
Gadgets and Simple Machines I can’t wait to start this; I think LD in particular will be over the moon! We might just start with some science experiments first while I spend time reading over things, preparing for and planning out this unit.
Native Americans Last spring we studied the Mayans. We may briefly cover the Aztecs and Incas and then will move up to the Native American tribes of the USA.
Rainforests is our next preschool unit.
Gymnastics: All three kids really, really enjoy their gymnastics classes. LD still goes twice a week for two hours each.
Soccer: LD enjoys playing soccer. He has practices twice a week and has a game (if it ever stops raining!)
Choir: LD sings in a children’s choir.
Roller Skating: We’ve fallen in love with roller skating and try to go once a fortnight to a local roller skating rink.
The kids are CONSTANTLY doing crafts and creations. DD loves to draw freehand. She and LD are always making various crafts from what’s on hand.
ED still loves to color and especially likes coloring sheets. She fell in love with these Cuties (left) from the artist, Heather Chavez’s website. She’s colored most every page Heather has offered! Examples: sea horse, owl, bat, here
ED’s Preschool Activities: I still rotate in lots of preschool activities and general change things up two or three times a week. I haven’t taken very many pictures lately except for this magnet kit which the kids all really enjoyed one day last week. I got the kit ages ago on clearance for $5.00 in Australia and they’ve had so much fun with it through the years.
Anyway, I usually try to bring out a new puzzle two or three times a week, and change out the activities (Perler beads, hammering, pattern block pages, bug sorting, card games (Uno, Blink, Rat-a-Tat Cat, etc.), and lots and lots of board games like Perfection (great for small motor skills), Cariboo, Snail’s Pace Race (good for colors, counting, taking turns), Memory, HiHo Cherry-O, Chutes-and-Ladders, Sorry, Adventures in Neopia (this is probably the kids’ favorite), Dino Math Tracks, Candyland, etc.) every other day or so. I feel like playing games is quite a large part of our preschool day! I also set out her Montessori cards/activities (counting, animals, etc.) but have only done that once a week recently. I also change up the books in her area daily.
At some point soon I feel like I need to spend time teaching LD and DD chess. It’s such a good, strategic game that gets people thinking.
|Snail’s Pace Race|
How much time do we spend on school stuff? Well, it depends on the day. I would say some days we do 3-4 hours, some days less a occasionally we do more. In general doing just the basics (reading, spelling/writing, math) takes us about an hour and a half. The kids do these subjects separately and I bounce from child to child to child. Then our other subjects, the things we do together in collection (unit studies, German) takes another hour to hour and a half depending on what I have planned. They each practice their music on their own and that just happens at some point during the day (but I need to sit down with them generally to do that). Oh–but all this doesn’t include games we play and so forth. I’m purely talking about the more ‘academic’ stuff I do with the older kids.
Do we let the kids watch TV? This is always such a contentious, debated topic out there in the blogging world. In our family, we have a pretty firm rule that there’s no TV or video games until after 3pm as long as all schoolwork is done. We’re usually out the door by 4:15pm for afternoon/evening activities so that pretty much sets the limit on electronic time. Occasionally I’ll let the kids watch a school movie (this summer we watched Liberty’s Kids, every now and then we watch a National Geographics program, but to be honest educational TV doesn’t come to my mind very often). We don’t have cartoon network and don’t generally watch TV shows, but rather watch DVDs or TV shows/movies off of Netflix. I like that the kids’ exposure to TV ads is very limited. We decided not to have a TV in our living room or homeschool room, so the TV isn’t a focus of our family life (the TV and Wii are down in the basement), but we all enjoy our various shows (I’ve been watching Battlestar Galactica when I run on the treadmill–so I admit even I enjoy my TV time!)
Outdoor Time: I feel this is really important for kids and we usually spend time outdoors (half hour to hour) most days. I work outside a lot (last week I planted a peach and cherry tree and chopped lots of wood) and the kids play. We have a very (very, very) steep hill and the kids can go sledding any time of year. This is currently the kids’ favorite outdoor activity. They went sledding pretty much every day this week! Yesterday my nephew (13) and LD went out into the woods to build a new shelter. LD has been very inspired by the survival story we’ve been reading, Hatchet, about a boy who has had to survive on his own in the Canadian wilderness with just a hatchet as a tool. I think I’ll need to find a book of similar vein after we finish the next few chapters.
Well, that was a bit longer than I had thought it would be!