Saturday, January 31, 2009

Home Ec In Action...

I was so thrilled to have my aunt Donnie volunteer to teach the kids some home economics. This day a little art was mixed in as they designed and drew their own pillowcases. Jackson made me proud by using his library book to see how to draw dinosaurs on his.

Don't they look like sweet students?

They turned out some great pillowcases that they are extremely proud of.

Thank you our lovely home ec teacher!
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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jon's Favorite Part of Homeschooling...

Jon says his favorite part of homeschooling is that he never knows what he's going to find when he comes home. Today he was really surprised to walk in to a tent and Biblical characters right in his own living room! We studied ancient Mesopotamia and the life Abram had in the city of Ur. Then we tried to imagine what his life must have been like when God called him to leave Ur and he ended up living in tents for years. One thing he probably would've had to do was make his own cloth. So, we practiced weaving on the classic pot holder loom. I loved doing this as a kid so much so that my family probably tired of receiving them as gifts! However, it was harder than I remember it being so we didn't exactly finish it, but hopefully they got the point any way!
I'm sure there were silly shephards, right?
I wish you could see Wesley's face because he thought they were too funny.
Truth be told, Jon probably laughed when he got home just at me in my shephard's attire but pretended it was the whole set up! Oh well, who can blame him?
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Monday, January 19, 2009

"Stuffy Hearts"...

My aunt was having to have an MRI or cat scan (I always get those confused) and is extremely claustrophobic. We wanted to do something to make her feel better so we made what Ashton dubbed "stuffy hearts". We just cut 2 heart shapes out of felt, stiched them together with emroidery floss, and stuffed it with cotton balls. They also stitched their initials on them. This made a little stress ball for Aunt Donnie to squeeze when she got nervous! I can't begin to tell you how much they both loved doing this. Every day they ask to do it again. Who knew they would enjoy sewing so much? Isn't it always the simplest things they love the most?

Jackson loved sewing just as much as Ashton did and did a great job. They both caught on really quickly. Maybe I can have them sewing the babies' clothes soon!

Posted by PicasaWe are also very blessed by that same aunt who is quite the seamstress who has agreed to teach them sewing on Fridays. She even has her own lesson plan book filled with things she wants to teach them. Two Fridays ago she came over and taught them about yo-yo quilts, complete with a history of them and making their own yo-yo pieces. Last week she took them to her house (bonus: break for me!) and they made pillow cases, decorated buckets, and made a picture puzzle. How lucky am I? So, I guess we're doing pretty well covering art for the first few weeks any way!

Layers of Fun...

Our next science topic was studying the layers of the earth. I found this really cool rap about it. Some of the verses went over their heads, but they really loved the chorus and still are singing it. After also reading a book What's Inside the Earth (which we had to skip the first two pages as they described how the earth just came together in a cosmic collision, please. How can people believe that?), we were ready for a project. We used our friendly Play Doh to recreate the layers. Of course, I had to do one too for instructional purposes and not just because I love the smell of Play Doh!

Posted by PicasaThis was an amazingly simple yet fun project. The only change I would make is to make the inner core smaller starting out to make it more to scale (you can see the colored print out on the table where we discussed the size of each layer) because by the time we got to the mantle which is actually the largest layer, we didn't have enough Play Doh! Yet again, the kids made a great instructional video which I will probably get around to posting months from now :)
I know this lesson really sunk in their minds though because 4 days later they both ran up to me and said, "We just figured out that our bodies have layers just like the earth. Our heart is the inner core. Our blood and organs are the outer core. Our bones are the mantle, and our skin is the crust!"
As you can imagine, I was very proud at them remembering the layers and making such a great connection. I was also really touched that they were discussing this amongst themselves. When they used to come home from school where they spent all day apart, they would argue or try to top each other on who did what that day. They didn't have much common ground and certainly couldn't discuss what they learned that day. That is a great side effect of homeschooling that you have a classmate who you are always with and able to discuss things you both learned that day. Wow, 2 weeks in and I'm already on like #97 of things I love about homeschooling. Maybe I should make that like a regular feature on the blog or something, hmmm...

Why Just Do Math...

when you can do PE and math rolled into one? By the time we get to math we have been working about an hour. Therefore, I decided we needed to get up and moving. So, every morning when he has to practice counting by 5's, 10's, 0r 100's he has to do a push up or jumping jack for every number he says.
Jackson loves it and giggles his way through most days. Jon is excited that he's working on his muscles for baseball season! I am really amazed at how much better he's gotten just in 2 weeks. That whole exercising thing may have something to it after all! Who knew?
Even though she was already finished with her math, Ashton decided she couldn't let Jackson have all the fun. She was actually able to count along with Jackson on his harder numbers and knew much more that I gave her credit for! Jackson had fun teaching her to count to 1,000 by 100's as they did punches for each number.

One of my favorite aspects of homeschooling is watching the kids teach each other. I was so worried about Ashton feeling insecure about Jackson knowing more than her, but she is really holding her own. It's neat how she knows some things better that he does. For example, she may need help with the memory verse words while Jackson knows it all, but she usually remembers the reference numbers and Jackson doesn't! I guess they make a good team, as they should!
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The School of Rock...

I decided that we would start off every morning with "Movin' to the Music" time. This is the beginning of our Morning Meeting (which is followed by prayer, Bible study, memory verse work and Bible or praise songs). My goal was two-fold. I wanted something where the twins could be included. I also wanted to get the big kids up and moving so they'd be wide awake and work off some energy before their sit down time. A lot of mornings we just do fun songs that call for movement like "The Freeze Dance" by Greg and Steve. This morning was Jackson's turn to choose, so he chose the soundtrack from last year's children's church choir musical. It has really upbeat songs they think totally cool because they sound like real rock music and I think cool because they are singing about Jesus! This morning it turned into a full on rock session. Normally, my goal is to get up and move with them both to be fun mommy and also to wake myself up! However, on this day I sat with cameras (video and digital) laughing and filming. Not only did you have Jackson doing his full-on rock star moves but Ashton was dancing her legs off. Not to be left out, Will and Wesley each received their own guitars to rock out on. Welsey preferred to slam his to the ground perhaps acting more like a rock star than any of them!

These two lovable goofballs came up with this move of hiding behind each other and popping out. The Brady band with their goofy moves would have been so proud!

Wesley soon left behind the guitar and moved onto the microphone. He must have been watching his big brother because he was dancing and singing. This boy truly has some moves. Will, on the other hand, was happy to have the guitar strap around his neck. He loves having things around his neck. It amuses me but mostly terrifies me at what that child squeezes around his neck!

Posted by PicasaWe might have been the only homeschool to start the day rocking out, but I highly recommend it! There's no better way to start the day than rockin' for Jesus!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Just How Big Was Noah's Ark?

Wow, I'm so glad you asked! It turns out that Monday the kids Jon and I went to my Grandmother's farm to measure it.
Of course, Ashton decided she wanted to be "Pinkalicious" so everything she wore had to be pink! It was pretty cold, but keeping warm was secondary to keeping within her color scheme!

Those two little specks way down the field are the kids predicting how long they thought Noah's Ark was. It was actually even longer than that. It measured 300 cubits which is 450 feet. It went all the way to the tree line! I had no idea it was so huge! Apparently, it was very seaworthy though as shipbuilders use its ratios to this day.

Here they are finalizing their measurements and staking it off. Just the very act of walking that far as you measured really drove home how big it truly was. Some scholars think it took Noah and his sons 100 years to build. Can you imagine such a singular mindset and sincere commitment?

Pinkalicious and Daddy measured out the 75 foot length. The most unbelievable thing was, as huge as it seemed when we staked it out on the field, that doesn't take into account that it was 3 stories and 45 feet tall! Only God!
This was one of the neatest things we have ever done as a family. The kids were awestuck and amazed at the vastness of it, not to mention just plain had fun! Jon and I were feeling pretty smug that we had given our kids this experience we think they will remember for a lifetime!
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My Favorite Part...

My favorite part of homeschooling is the fact that we can do it in our pajamas! Actually, that is what the kids and I were both looking forward to, but they have been so gung ho with their morning chores that they get up, brush their teeth, make their beds and get dressed. Therefore, they actually haven't been in their pajamas except this once, and it was only for part of the day. I, on the other hand, am in my pajamas every day. At least until the babies go down for their naps, the big kids have recess, and I can run up to grab a quick shower! I am REALLY trying to get up to have my quiet time and get ready before the kids awake, but it hasn't actually happened yet! So, hurray for perpetual pajama days!
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My Genius Child...

I hate to brag, but Will is really doing a great job with his Wordly Wise. He's working on the 3rd grade workbook as you can see in front of him. It's amazing, he know all 10 words and definitions the first time he reads them! I'm sure you can understand why I am so proud!
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We've got the Whole Globe in Our Hands...

These first posts are pretty late, but the first two weeks have been so busy that I have had no time to blog!

Since we began homeschooling with the logical place of creation, we talked about Pangaea (Who knew there were Bible verses to support the scientific theory of a supercontinent? I didn't. I learned it from our Tapestry of Grace curriculum.)

They are very eager to make a video of their completed creation pizza books. I am awful about putting videos on my blog, but I have to get better because they both love making them and do a really good job. These books were really neat and I don't think they will forget the 7 days of creation anytime soon!

I wish I had thought to take a picture of them with their inflatable globe. Santa really knew what he was doing when he brought us that because we have really used it. We are learning the continents and oceans.

I found a great song on a website that helped a lot. It is sung to the tune of "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands":

We've got the whole globe in our hands,
We've got the whole globe in our hands,
We've got the whole globe in our hands,
The whole globe in our hands.

We've got Europe, Asia, Africa in our hands,
We've got North and South America in our hands,
We've got Australia and Antarctica in our hands,
We've got the whole globe in our hands.

We passed it around with each verse. Whoever was holding it when we got to the verse with the continents had to point to all of them as we sang it. They really loved it and remembered it really well.

I haven't found a song for oceans, but at least there are only 4 of them! We did learn about how the earth is 70% water by tossing the globe to each other. Everyone had to look at where their left thumb was and tell if it was on water or land. We kept tally marks. It worked out perfectly that it landed on water 70% of the time!

This was a fun first week, and it didn't stop there. Stay tuned...
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Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Conversation with My 7 Year Old Son...

I have to get this down before I forget it:

Jackson: Mom, I feel different.
Me: In what way?
J: I'm being nice to the babies...
Me: What do you think has made that difference?
J: Well, it was my friend Parker. He was always saying bad words and making me say bad words cause I was like part of their gang, but I didn't want to be.
Me: You said bad words?
J: Well, maybe but I didn't want to. They tricked me. They would make me hold my tongue and say words that would sound like bad words, but I didn't know.
Me: There's going to be a lot of people in your life that try to make you do things. You have to stand up for yourself.
J: I'm just so glad to be away from all of them. They were making my heart feel black. I don't like that feeling. I'm glad to be homeschooled.
Me: Me too, baby, me too.

For several months now Jackson has been crying that his heart hurt. He always said it felt black. We prayed with him and for him, but he continually complained to the point that I asked the doctor about it and was ready to talk to Pastor Reagan about it. Now I think it was some things he had done but was too embarrassed to tell us about or maybe stress from some situations he was in that the Holy Spirit was convicting him about. Regardless, I am glad to have him home for however long we decide to stay on this road. I have to make sure I use this time to equip him with a foundation to withstand the world. What a big responsibility and mostly what an honor!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Let There Be Light...

So, today was our first day so what better way to start the year than by studying the start of everything in the creation story. Everyone was very excited for our first day. The kids couldn't wait until our 9 o'clock start time so they began teaching the babies! It was really sweet. After circle time complete with silly songs to get us moving, Bible story and memory verse work the big kids settled into their copywork while I did Tot School with the twins. I think it might have been their favorite thing they did all day copying their Bible verse and illustrating it! Who knew? They both did their absolute best handwriting which was beautiful! We're copying Bible verses and stories and illustrating them every morning. They are in a binder which they are excited will become their own illustrated Bible!
Next, I worked on math and sight words with Ashton while Jackson worked independently on Wordly Wise, handwriting, and reading comprehension followed by playtime on the lap top. Everything went so smoothly and was much easier than I expected. Jackson worked really hard without complaint. Ashton was probably the most challenging part of the day (as I knew she would be). She just slumped down and wasn't excited or eager about anything. This was really puzzling because while I was planning Sunday she voluntarily worked next to me for an hour completing an entire math workbook. I think she is so scared of getting something wrong that she just doesn't want to try (she probably gets that from me). She wasn't awful but I was disappointed that she wasn't more into it.

Finally, it was time for recess. They built an obstacle course while I spent recess cleaning my bedroom!
Of course, the babies chose today to wake up from their nap early. So, we took a much longer lunch break than I had planned, but that's OK. Then we did our Tapestry of Grace in the afternoon. Our history lesson was on Creation and our science lesson on Pangaea. We are making creation pizza books. This was a really big hit. Here they are showing off their Day 1: day and night.
I knew Ashton would like this since she got to do art, but I was surprised at how meticulous Jackson was about it. He truly took his time and put a lot of thought and planning into every aspect. Today we only did days 1-3, but we'll show it off when we complete it.

Overall, I thought it was a very successful day. I didn't have to twist their arms too bad, yet! Two things I wasn't happy with were we didn't write in our journals today and I don't feel like they spent enough time reading, but we'll get there! In fact, I may make them read to me at bedtime tonight. Who says school has to end before dark?
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Divine Cofirmation...

Those of you who are veteran homeschoolers might be frustrated at this, but I am still nervous if I made the right decision in choosing to do this for my family. I guess anytime you make a big decision there is always some nervousness and probably always will be. Yet, this morning I stood amazed at God's faithfulness and knowledge that he doesn't get frustrated at me but wants to comfort me.

I got up extra early determined to have my quiet time before starting the school day (I usually have it while the twins are napping). Unfortunately, I was joined in the early hour by a little chatty girl who was excited about her first day and wakeful twins who would make a quiet time unachievable. After I got everybody changed and fed I ran upstairs determined to steal at least a little time.

I have been using my Esther study by Beth Moore as my quiet time but knew I didn't have time to do it. I tried unsuccessfully to read through the Bible last year. I didn't get very far as I much preferred doing Bible studies. Since I didn't have much time today I thought I would just read the next chapter where I left off (I highlight them after I read them). I opened up to Deuteronomy chapter 11 (I told you I hadn't gotten very far). After reading loads of homeschooling sites I know this chapter contains THE verse in support of homeschooling Deut. 11:19: "Teach them (your laws) to your children talking about them when you sit at home and you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." It just overwhelmed me that of all chapters and all verses God had me read those today. I don't know about you, but I am always open to a little divine comforting and confirmation. Our Lord is so good that he knows the smallest thought in our mind and wants to care for us in every way. It was so wonderful to start my day with this verse fresh in my mind and praising the Lord. Isn't that what every day should be like and what we are called to teach our children when we are at home, on the road, lying down or getting up?

A Bird's Eye View...

I spent all day, and I do mean ALL day after church Sunday, planning for our first week of homeschool. I was way overachieving and way over scheduling and "way" doesn't begin to describe how much stress I was putting myself under. As I lay in bed that night looking at myself through a "bird's eye view" I realized how silly I was being. I guess I'm still in that public school teacher mentality of having to cover everything just in case it might be on the dreaded achievement test. We always talked about that curriculum being "a mile wide and an inch deep", and was one of the things I wanted to avoid in homeschool. I want my kids to have the time and opportunity to really dig into a subject that grabs their interest which is how I think they should learn.

So, I lay there thinking I need to develop a new lens to look at my plans through. Is this information going to benefit them forever? Is it developmentally appropriate (such as grammar)? Most importantly, will this help them fulfill the plan God has for their lives? Looking at it that way, I scratched some things off my overachieving list such as teaching nouns to my 5 year old (not right now any way).

I know me, and I know this is a lesson I will have to learn over and over again. It is just so hard when you want them to know everything. Don't we all want to show our kids the world? I know I still can show them the world. It just doesn't have to all happen this week!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Twin Tot School Christmas #1...

Tot School

Will and Wesley are 17 months old.

This is my first Tot School post although I have faithfully been reading Carisa's blog and getting really excited about trying Tot School with my twins at the same time I begin homeschooling my 5 and 7 year olds in 3 short days!

Knowing we would soon begin Tot School I asked the grandparents to get some good educational toys that we could use.

Here, the boys are really excited to play with their new peg board and also to sit at their new table. We've had it waiting in the garage for them to get big enough to use it, and now was the perfect time!

Will was being a goofball and eating the pegs.
Wesley was very seriously stacking his pegs. This was a change for them as they are usually the opposite. As with everything with our twins who are so totally different, Will likes to put the pegs in the mat and take them our while Wesley loves making a tower. Mommy is just glad they are practicing their fine motor skills.
Did I mention Will is the climber?

Here Wesley is playing with some good old fashioned wooden ABC blocks. Most often, I think traditional toys can be the best, not to mention they were only $10.
They also got the Parents instrument set. They were very excited to have their own drum since Santa brought big brother Rock Band.
Why drum with your hands alone?
Apparently, Wesley had a headache that day because he kept taking the instruments away from Will and putting the top on them.
That's just a few of our toys. We are saving some to pull out when we begin our official Tot School. Hope to bring you great things from it next week!

Please go here for lots more Tot School!

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