Thursday, December 29, 2011

Science the Magic School Bus Way!

Hello Friends!

Just wanted to pass along an offer for 50% off The Magic School Bus Science Club being offered at The Homeschool Buyers Co-op (free to join!). 

I'll admit to not keeping up with a regular Science curriculum this year, so I'm looking forward to start this new curriculum!

Here is a brief description of the program:

Join Ms. Frizzle and her students on The Magic School Bus each month in exploring one of twelve different science topics through hands-on experiments. Developed by a team of Harvard graduates, scientists, and educators, the award-winning kits will help your young scientist experience science in a fun and engaging manner.
Every month, you'll receive a science kit with a colorful lesson manual and supplies for children ages 5 to 12 to explore one new educational topic. The topics are: Acids/Bases, Air, Bacteria/Fungi, Fossils, Human Body, Light/Rainbows and Mirrors, Magnets, Solids/Liquids/Gases, Stars/Planets, Volcanoes, Water, and Weather Station.

As I have yet to try the program, I do not have a review but will be sure to post one as the units start arriving!  The deal ends on December 31st!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The BEST gift you can give your child this Christmas!

I've mentioned before that since my kids don't watch television, they do not ask for things.  They are actually confused when people ask what they want for Christmas and say things like: a doll and candy canes.  We don't do the whole look in a catalog and circle what you want thing.  They play so nicely with what they already have (which is a lot...mostly hand me downs and birthday gifts) that they truly don't need another single toy! 

Now, I'm not so extreme that I don't buy my girls anything for Christmas, but instead we buy them one or two gifts.  This year they both got a doll and a book.  Sofia got the Little House on the Prairie paper doll book and Maya got the second Where's Waldo book.  Emmy, our little girl, got an inflatable toy she can throw around the house without breaking things! All their gifts cost less than $100. And they will be perfectly happy on Christmas.

To me, it seems out of control.  Parents spending hundreds per child on Christmas, ridiculously long Christmas gift lists, and the overall sense of entitlement we are teaching our children.  I'm pretty sure I won't be getting $500 worth of gifts for Christmas, so why would I teach my kids to start to expect that sort of gift flow?

I get it, that it feels good for parents to give children wonderful and bountiful gifts!  The problem is, that the satisfaction (for both parents and children) is fleeting.  In a couple months those hundreds of dollars of toys and games will end up in piles on your kids' floor and you'll be yelling at them to tidy them up!

Instead, I'm trying hard to give my kids the BEST gift this Christmas...the gift of a servants heart.

We have been focusing this season on how we can help others who are in need.  I think it has really helped the girls (and myself!) realize how MUCH we really have and how little we need compared to most people in the world!

The girls and I participated in Samaritans Purse through our MOPS group.  We packed two shoeboxes full of items for a child in need.  It was an eye-opening experience for the girls to go to Target and pick out things for our boxes.  Sofia thought that a Leapster would be a good gift and was shocked to find out that where these boxes were going there was no electricity or even batteries!  While we picked out things like toothbrushes and crayons, the girls learned how things they take for granted were treasures to other children!  With a small donation, you can track your boxes...ours ended up in Jordan and Honduras!

Our homeschooling group has been making scarves and hats for a mission that helps the poor in our area.  Using a loom, Sofia has been able to help me knit several scarves!  I will blog about how to do this in a later post because I'm so surprised that a 5 year old can learn it!  It is super easy and whips out a scarf in only a few hours.

Finally, the girls and I have been making "Get Well Soon" cards for a local boy who has cancer.  His Christmas wish was to receive 1000 cards!  If you are interested in sending Joey a card to help him achieve what is expected to be his last Christmas wish, please email me and I will send you the contact information.

Making our Get Well Soon Joey cards!

In these last few days before Christmas, forget about that last toy on their list, it's not too late to make this season what it really is meant to be...a celebration of the birth of Jesus!  Jesus can be found in many places this Christmas season....I'm just pretty sure it's not at Toys R' Us.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Planning the Homeschool Day

Homeschooling is efficient.

There is no waiting in line, no time wasted going from class to class, no sitting through attendance roll call....the list can go on and on.

It's the reason that homeschooling takes a fraction of the time to complete as traditional school.

People are often surprised that homeschooling Kindergarten takes us only a couple hours a day since public school counterparts are in classrooms for 6 hours a day!

We have recently completed our 12th week of homeschooling (that's 1/3 of the school year already!).  We continue to spend about 2-3 hours a day doing "official" homeschooling material...usually it's closer to 2 hours. 

I schedule my week using the Seton Day Planner.  Recommended to me by a friend, it is my favorite planning resource for homeschooling by far!  We use Sonlight curriculum and it is well planned out, but for me, I like to have everything scheduled on one page that I can write on, erase and check off.  Actually, the checking off is my favorite part ;)

After breakfast we all clean up the kitchen area and clear off the table to get ready for the school day.  The older girls can load their breakfast dishes into the dishwasher and then play with the baby while I complete the cleaning.  We are usually good to go by 8:15ish in the morning.

We start with our religion lesson.  We read a few pages of the Children's Bible every day and this is something the whole family participates in.  Emmy sits on my lap and Sofia and Maya sit close so they can see the pictures!  We are also reading Leading the Little ones to Mary and going through the Seton Kindergarten Catechism.   This takes about 10 minutes.

Sofia then starts on some independent work such as her handwriting pages from My Printing Book, and her phonics lessons from Explode the Code 4 and Modern Curriculum Press Phonics Book B.  Depending on the day and Sofia's level of cooperation, this can take 15-30 minutes to complete.

By this time, the baby is ready for her nap and we get a chance to do some one on one learning.  We usually start with her math program which is currently RightStart A.  Time is about 20 minutes including games.

Then we move to All About Spelling (AAS) Level 1 which takes about 15 minutes.  We do this in a different part of the house then the rest of the schoolwork.  This breaks up the time we are sitting in the same area and keeps the girls from getting bored.

History is the part of the day that can either take 15 minutes or an hour depending on how interested they are in the subject!  Today we learned about Pioneers and we spent a lot of time on it.  My girls are in love with Little House on the Prairie books so they wanted to know EVERYTHING about them! 

Read-aloud books are books that all the kids enjoy!  Even Emmy likes reading from our poetry book and Mother Goose book!  Actually, the poetry book included in the Sonlight package The Llama who had no Pajamas is one of my all time favorite poetry books!  It would make an excellent Christmas gift for kids!  The longer chapter books, I read to Sofia before naptime in the afternoon.  Read-aloud time takes about 15 minutes.

The rest of the day is spent going on field trips, doing crafts, playing outside, building forts, playing with siblings and just being kids!

Kindergarten doesn't have to be 6 hours a day away from home!  Our day is really relaxed and we get so much done in just one morning.  Look at the smiles on those could I separate them for 6 hours a day?!