Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New Year, New Ideas

We're back!  It is the start of third grade.  I can't believe how quickly the summer went by.  We did not do much "school" during the summer but we spent a lot of time outside, took a few trips to the zoo and aquarium, and read a lot of books.  Ms. Q has decided that she does not want to make lapbooks this year.  I am more than a little disappointed about this.  I really, really like lapbooks.  I like looking for templates for minibooks, I like getting colored paper and cutting out intricate shapes and folding them.  But alas, Ms. Q has said no.  I guess I will have to wait to get my fix until M is old enough for lapbooking!

So what ARE we doing this year?  I thought about using a boxed curriculum but I had difficulty finding one that can be used in a Charlotte Mason style and is secular.  Creating one from scratch just seemed too difficult with a toddler and an infant taking up most of my time.  We are totally loving Lesson Pathways.  We will be using the majority of units in 3rd year History, Science, and Language Arts. Lesson Pathways provides many of the resources for each unit as well as great hands-on projects and assignments and is FREE!  We will be supplementing with "living books" from the library and there is plenty of room for Q to follow her passion of the moment.  Ambleside Online has a great schedule of artists, composers, and topics for nature study.  I'm not sure if we will follow it exactly but it's a good start. We are also trying out Math U See, we kept Growing with Grammar, Handwriting Without Tears, and Explode the Code.  I know the workbooks are not in keeping with the CM style but Ms. Q likes workbooks and she really needs some help with these subjects.

Little M is starting "school" this year.  He is only two years old so it will not be actual school but he is too interested in what Ms. Q is doing for her to get much done.  He likes to climb up on her work table, lay on top of her papers, a grab her pencil out of her hand.  He loves it when she screams about this and it takes almost a half hour for the chaos to end.  So Little M is going to school.  I bought some large plastic tubs and I filled them with all sorts of goodies that Little M likes.  Each one has different items inside like puzzles, flash cards, paints, markers, play dough, glue sticks, safety scissors, you get the idea.  He gets a different box each morning and he can only use the items inside during school time (from 9am until lunch).  So far so good.  He has not bothered Ms. Q while she is working, although sometimes she gets distracted watching him work on something, and he is quiet while she and I work together on a lesson.  Every morning he asks if there is school today and he actually cried on Saturday when I said there was no school that day!

Well that's my plan for the year: here's hoping for a great year!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

He's here!

Baby C has arrived.  We have been busy welcoming our newest family member and adjusting to the many changes a new baby brings.  Little M is being a great big brother and Ms. Q is awesome as a big, big sister.  We are enjoying just hanging out as a family unit.  I braved our first outing alone with three kids and our trip to the library this week was splendid! Little M showed Baby C all around the library and read him some books.  Ms. Q was very helpful with carrying books and helping me maneuver the large double stroller.

We are not doing any "schoolwork" right now although Ms. Q has been reading on her own and we have done some reading aloud.  She is also using her new multiplication knowledge to show off.   The weather has been great and we are spending as much time as we can outside, so nature is of course providing some learning opportunities.

Hopefully I will be able to get the pictures of her tiger lapbook up this week because next week Ms. Q wants to learn about bats (so of course I borrowed Stellaluna from the library).   I should be starting plans for summer learning and next year too.  Well off to our busy day!

Monday, May 17, 2010

School's out for Spring!

Well ok I know that's not how the song is supposed to go but we are taking a little school break.  We are (patiently) awaiting the arrival of Baby C who is now a full week past his due date.  It is just too much for me to plan, organize, prepare, and complete lessons right now.  And I figure we will have enough going on when he does come that we will have to get into some new routines anyway. So Ms. Q finished a unit on tigers, post for this to follow shortly, and we are finishing up some lessons on the African American Civil Rights movement.  But mostly we are reading, relaxing, having fun, and trying to fit in some fun trips and activities before the baby comes. 

Here are some pictures of our recent weeks.

We have been enjoying the great spring weather to go out and find new places for picnics and nature walks.  This is our first picnic of the season.  We also found out about a group of naturalists who host guided nature walks and we have enjoyed learning about the native plants and animals in our area.

What better way to enjoy great warm weather than a quick swim!  You only get to be a kid for a short time - why not enjoy it.

Here we are at the Philly Zoo.  We had a great time - the tickets were free, the weather was fine, and the company was fantastic! 

We are planning a trip to the Camden Aquarium this week for M's birthday.  It should be a blast!  Our garden is coming along nicely too.  Ms. Q and I are total novices but we are having a great time learning about plants and trying to grow our own veggies.  We've had some disappointments already - like no spinach sprouts and crab grass in our strawberries - but we are trying our best and learning and that's what it's all about.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Exploring with Lewis and Clark

Imagine my surprise when I scheduled a unit on Lewis and Clark and my husband said "who are they?" WHAT?? I thought maybe it was just him. So I asked some coworkers and all but one gave me a blank stare. The one thought she had heard about them somewhere but did not know why they are famous. Hmm...

This unit was great for the whole family it turns out. Since we were going to be talking about exploring I bought the kids foam explorer hats I found at the craft store. They loved them and wore them everyday for two weeks, even when it wasn't "school time." Fred was really interested in learning about the exploration since he thought he had missed out on it the first time, so every evening Ms. Q got to relive the lesson in teaching it to him. We spent two weeks following the expedition.

We used the book Lewis and Clark and Me by Laurie Myers.  The author uses excerpts from Lewis's expedition journal to write adventures from the point of view of Seaman, the Newfoundland that accompanied the expedition.

Homeschool Share had some wonderful ideas for language arts activities. I gathered some more ideas from Lessonpathways and free lapbook minibooks here.

The family really enjoyed this adventure unit and here are some pictures of Q's lapbook.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

That Time of Year

I know it's early but I have already started thinking about plans for next year. I'm thinking the summer is going to be pretty busy with a new baby, summer vacation plans, gardening, and of course just enjoying the weather and the community events. I thought it would be a good idea to start at least thinking about what we are going to do for third grade. (Wow - third grade!!) We had a tough start to second grade and I would like to avoid that again. I think we have found some curriculum that works well for phonics and grammar. Ms. Q likes it and it seems to be working.

We are still struggling to find a math program that we both like. I tried to avoid spending too much money on a prepared curriculum package but I think that I might have to break down and go for it. The question is which one?

I found a really great resource to add to our homeschool - lesson pathways. This website was once a members only site but has since become free to use with paid advertisements. The website provides web based units of study in all subject areas and the curriculum is aligned with the federal core curriculum standards. It has really helped lessen the time I need to spend searching the internet for resources, hands on project ideas, and worksheets. We are definitely going to be using it more in the fall. We are sticking with the literature based units but are going to work in some more science with the help of lesson pathways. I highly recommend the site!

I would really like to at least create a list of topics/books/ideas to cover for next year and a tentative time schedule for when we would do each one. It will just give me a little feeling of control. I don't think that's too much to ask!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Dinosaurs Unit

This unit was soooo much fun - for the whole family! Ms. Q asked for this one and I found some really great minibooks for her lapbook and some great hands-on activities at Homeschool Share. We took two weeks for this unit and tried to include all the subject areas. We used the Magic Tree House #1 Dinosaurs Before Dark by Mary Pope Osborne as our literature selection, reading a chapter each day and using the non-fiction Research Guide as well.

This is Ms. Q beginning her adventure as a paleontologist. She is digging for dinosaur bones!

She found one!

After Ms. Q found all the bones inside the box she tried to put them together. She really impressed me with this. She did not know how many bones there were supposed to be or even if she had found them all. Then she put them together WITHOUT the instructions and WITHOUT even knowing what the dinosaur was supposed to look like...just like a real paleontologist!

This is it - the Spinosaurus!
Here are the photos of her completed lapbook.

Little M started his first unit study this week too! He has been sitting at the kitchen table with Ms. Q while she does her work and I usually give him a coloring sheet to scribble on, so I thought that it would be fun for him to have coloring sheets of dinosaurs. This evolved into the letter D, which he can now identify and make the phonetic sound for. He also did some counting and gluing and we read lots of books about dinosaurs.

Here are photos of Little M's school work!

And of course no study of dinosaurs would be complete without a trip to the museum. Everyone was able to go and we met the grandparents there too. Here we are at the Delaware Museum of Natural History in Wilmington with the dinosaurs.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

It's been awhile...

Almost 5 months!!! I do have an excuse - we are going to have a baby!  He is due May 10, 2010. Although the pregnancy has been going well, it has taken all the energy I have just to maintain Ms. Q's schooling, go to work, and take care of an ever increasingly active Little M. Hopefully I am back to regular posting.

In the last few months Ms. Q and I have struggled to find a rhythm that works for us. We started off the school year miserably, although I am sure this is mostly due to my terrible morning sickness and total lack of energy. We were doing mostly workbooks and not even very interesting ones. Ms. Q wanted to stop literature based unit studies, like Five in a Row, that we used last year and do more topic oriented studies. We tried this but after two units she was out of ideas and I was out of patience! There were some days I threatened to send her back to public school, although we both knew I was bluffing.

I think we are finding a nice mix now of interesting (and somewhat easy) workbooks for math, grammar, and phonics and we are back to literature units. We have had a good couple of months and I can honestly say that I am enjoying our homeschooling again and so is Ms. Q.