Category: homeschool

Monday, August 6th was our first day of school! This year, Susannah got first-day-of-school gifts too. In years past, I’ve given schulteute – but I took the easy route this year with purchased bags. They each got a little toy (a Cars 2 vehicle for Jonas and a pair of “Zoobilies” for Susannah), new pencils, new sidewalk chalks, and a coloring book. 

We are working through Tapestry of Grace – Year One, so our first week of school covered Creation through the Flood. One of my favorite things about this curriculum is that it’s designed to include all the children in a family. Littles can talk about the topics in the very simplest way, older kids learn more in-depth. But we’re all talking about the same things over the dinner table. 
“Extra” books from the library to supplement what we read with TOG were out on Susannah’s table for her to look through. I had paper and coloring books out for her, as well as some little activities which I could pull out to occupy her while Jonas was working on something that needed my attention or some quiet.
This was a baggie of foam letters I’d preselected so she could spell her name. She recognizes all her letters and knows the letter sounds; she knows how to spell her name orally. This activity gives her a chance to “match up” the letters she hears herself say aloud with the visual of the letter forms in the proper order for her name.
Little People Noah’s Ark! Susannah and I did this together while Jonas did a math sheet independently. I’d pull an animal out of our basket, and she’d find its mate. Then she picked an animal and I’d look for the mate. When we were done, we counted all the people and animals boarding our ark.
 A friend of mine posed a question on Facebook this week after I shared something about our week – how do you take care of the younger kids when you’re doing school? Well, for one thing, most weeks Susannah will be going to Parents’ Day Out at our church on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9-12:30. That will give me several hours for work that needs focused attention. When she is home with us on Tuesdays and Thursdays, we’ll do hands-on projects in which she can participate, and I’ll have activities like

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I don’t care what the pessimists at USC say: I don’t think newspapers will ever die. At least, I hope and pray they don’t.

In my other life – my life before three tiny people started needing me every hour of the day – I watched television news. Even once our children came along, Chris has continued to consume a lot of news programs. I tease that he’s a news junkie; and during election cycles? Holy cow, the man can’t get a fix big enough! But there’s a funny dynamic at our house – on his days off, if he walks into the family room and flips on the TV and selects MSNBC, no one peeps a squeak. If I try to catch the local news on a weekday, it’s meltdown city.

My solution has been to keep the television off in the mornings as often as humanly possible. (Which means that sometimes when we need to get out the door early, I turn on a “kid channel” and let them veg for 20 minutes while I pack up lunches and diaper bags and all the other stuff it takes to get us out the door. Ahem. So sue me.) One side effect of my solution is that I don’t get to see the news. Turns out? I don’t miss it.

Especially since we take the local newspaper Friday through Sunday. I get to read everything from when the paving on Scherm Road is going to be complete, to things happening in Syria (which, honestly, I still don’t understand, but I keep reading because at some point it might make sense!). And after a week like last, when the shootings in Aurora, Colorado were all over the headlines, I’m even more thankful for our paper.

I wanted to know about the story, but I didn’t want radio or television reports to be heard or seen by my children. Yes, Jonas is a reader, and he loves newspapers, but it’s far easier for me to read a story and put that section of the paper out of his sight – than for me to tune in to NPR or watch CNN while shielding my kids from that. NEWSPAPERS WIN.

Which brings me to the other reason I really hope newspapers never die. My son, like a lot of kids, started paying attention to the paper when he discovered the comics. Then, about a year ago, there was an article about the reboot of the X-Men comic series – the art caught his eye, and he wanted to know why Wolverine was in the newspaper. Lately, Jonas reads one or two articles each weekend, and his taste is pretty varied. I love watching it! Reading the newspaper is an excellent way to stretch the vocabulary, to be exposed to writing for different purposes, to gain a glimpse of the world beyond your windows.

Now, he wants to work on writing his own newspaper. Technically, this will be the second issue; the first came out a few weeks

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As Jonas has been raving, our new school space is finally done. And it is SUPER AWESOME! And woohoo! And TOTALLY WICKED! Come take a look around.

(I thought the captions I wrote on the photos would suffice, but they look at little small on my browser. Oops. I think if you click each pic, it will enlarge – if you’re curious.)

“The view from our front door. Welcome to the madhouse…err, I mean, SCHOOLhouse. Yeah.”

This is the second shelf on the left-most bookcase. I cleared it of the nonfiction books it used to hold to make space for my Teacher’s Editions and the books we’ll be using for Tapestry of Grace. The TOG materials are in binders (I have spines to label them, I just haven’t gotten around to it for Units2-4). Behind each unit binder, I’ve put the books and resources we’ll use during that unit. There are some great tips on the TOG forums about using a system of label dots on the spines of the books for help with sorting them, but I think I’ll wait to see if we stick with TOG for more than one year cycle before I go that route.
This picture is from the doorway into our kitchen.

Sorry this one is dark; the hazards of shooting toward a window in the daytime. We get great morning sun from the front window, and lots of afternoon sun through this large window. The chandelier in here is nice, but it gives a yellow glow. Most of you know I’m kinda light-sensitive, especially in the winter months, so we’ll see how that works for me. I may have to take down this jerryrigged sheer November through February, haha!
My kinesthetic learner can’t sit in a chair for long. This is our old coffee table, and the only one in the house I allow her to sit on.

For particulars about the workbooks we’re using, see this post.

I used TWPD planner last year as well (probably not to its full potential). In

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It *must* be summer – I’ve been too busy to blog! (Ha.) The curtain is closing on the summer of 2012 (well, not in terms of the weather, but at least in terms of my planning for a new school year). We have a few exciting things coming up – Chris’ 33rd birthday is today; next week the kids and I are taking a trip to the ATL to see my brother, sister-in-law, and their boys; and the first Saturday of August is The Big Latch-On (for me and Abigail and hundreds of other nurslings around the country). And then… the first full week of August… we’re planning to start our school year.

Our county schools go back on Wednesday of that week, and while I have no obligation to start on their timeline, I know that I have a proclivity to take lots of extra days off when the kids get squirrelly in November. And February. And whenever else lack-of-inspiration strikes. I also have two kids who are currently meandering through the new schoolroom space on a daily basis, asking/whining, “Can we do school YET?” So we’re going to carpe the heck out of that diem, and start while the starting is good.

Here’s my game plan for the 2012-2013 school year:

Abigail: 10 months- 20 months old
The schoolroom currently holds her baby swing and a wire bead maze, the base of which doubles as storage for toys she likes. I’ll rotate these out as needed throughout the year. Her “curriculum” revolves around nursing, napping, crawling around the room, and simple songs and board books – typical baby stuff.

I’m hoping to begin a playgroup for infants through Primary-aged kids (*ahem*just like my family!*ahem*) through our homeschool group in the fall. I still miss our playgroup in NKy; it was always especially nice to let our babies be around other babies! If I can get it off the ground, hopefully it will become another activity we can plan on weekly. I don’t believe it’s necessary for a baby to have anything (class/playgroup/etc) to attend, but it is certainly nice for mamas!

Susannah: 3½- 4½ years old, Prekindergarten(3)
We have loved everything about the Parents’ Day Out program at Settle Memorial UMC since Susannah started in January. We’re going to continue letting her attend; in August she’ll begin going Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9:00-12:30. While she’s there, she does lots of painting, clay, dramatic play, blocks, crafts, outside play, and other usual offerings in a preschool-type setting. She absolutely adores the teachers and other kids (although her dearest friend L. is going to move “up” to the church’s official Preschool in the fall, and I’m hoping Susannah won’t be too upset over not seeing her buddy every day). She’s quite an extrovert, so we’ve found that having lots of opportunities to be with a big group of kids really “charges her batteries”.

In

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(This rambling post may not be very interesting, but I needed to put some of these ideas down so that my brain can stop spinning!)

I realized the other day that I started doing preschool work with Jonas when he was two-and-a-half… That means we’ve been at this for four years already! (Actually, that makes me feel better about all the breaks we’ve taken… surely we’ve logged plenty of days that way!) In the Elsmere house, we worked at the kitchen table, overflowing to the floor or relaxing on the upstairs couches to read and snuggle together. When we moved here, we kept working in the kitchen – albeit a new table. The layout here gives me a great view of the family room and kitchen while I work with Jonas in the breakfast area, so that has been nice.

But I’ve been brainstorming about having a dedicated space since we moved in. This house’s floorplan has a formal front room and dining room… but we don’t have formal furniture.The front room currently holds a all of bookshelves and a bajillion books, and two old floor lamps which have seen better days.  And since my Dad’s latest visit in June it has gained an antique dry sink and a Panamanian leather rocking chair.

And the dining room, until this week, held our old kitchen table and three chairs, our old coffee table, the dog’s crate, and an odd collection of “stuff” which hasn’t found just the right spot to land in the new house. (I’m ashamed to admit that, since we’ve lived here a whole year already!)

So the plan has been bubbling in my mind… What if I turned the “dining room” into a school room? Of course, the obvious ‘con’ on the list is that we wouldn’t be able to use it as a formal dining space for the next year or so. But since we probably won’t make room in the budget to buy formal dining furniture for at least that long, odds are this room would continue to go largely unused, which makes it an unfortunate staging ground for all the bits and bobs that are still undecided (unhung pictures, baskets I can’t seem to donate because I might need them for something, etc!)

The pros far outweighed the con, in my thinking. A dedicated space would free up the kitchen table to be just a kitchen table. Instead of the rush to clean off breakfast and in order to make room for work – then clean off all the work to make room for lunch – and repeat again in the afternoon… I could have work out on the work table and leave it there! We could just saunter into the kitchen for snack and lunch time.

Also, I didn’t mind having our calendars and wall charts hanging on the tiny wall opposite the breakfast nook, but it’s a high-traffic spot (the thruway from the ktichen into the family room) and things were constantly getting rubbed, marked on, or knocked

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A new week, a new science “es-perience” (as Susannah calls them). I’ve been aiming for Thursdays, but this week that was a pretty busy day. We had a guy here all morning to install DirectTV and Chris got his great news about the boards and Miss Deanna came to babysit so the grownups could go out to celebrate! Hence – science got pushed back to Friday. Luckily, the kids had a blast so I think the wait was worth it.

How about a little exploration of magnetism? I did a unit on magnets for my science portfolio for National Boards, so putting this together brought back some fond memories.

First, I gathered some “household objects” on a little tray. I told the kids we were going to guess if each item was magnetic or not. (With a classroom of first graders, I wrote the names of the items. Mostly for Susannah’s benefit, we just placed the real objects on the paper. For a tactile & visual learner like her, this allowed her to better grasp which things “moved” to the opposite box when we checked.) We examined each object and made our guess. As with most kids in this age group, Jonas and Susannah thought that anything made of metal would be magnetic.

When we checked each item, there were a few surprises! The “Finn McMissile” car and the “silver” ring were actually painted plastic, so they didn’t stick to our heavy-duty magnet. The metal spring in the clothespin was magnetic, but the coin, key, and nail were not.
To unlock the mystery of why some metal objects “stick” and others don’t, I pulled out a library book and we read the first few pages together. (It will be a good one for Jonas and I to finish next week, but it was text-heavy and not grabbing Susannah’s interest.) Did you know that it’s mainly iron, cobalt, and nickel which are magnetic?

The next part of our experiment was “the best part” according to both kids. I gave them each a new horseshoe magnet, a piece of construction paper, and a handful of paper clips. Susannah mainly just slung hers around, which is about all I expected from a 3 year old.

Jonas worked carefully with his, trying to figure out how to maximize the number of paperclips he could attract. He discovered that if he made a big pile of the paperclips and put the horseshoe into the pile, then sloooowly lifted it, he could add more paperclips one-by-one. I think his grand total was around 27!

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Meet the author

MICHELLE NEBEL

I write uplifting women’s fiction woven with threads of faith, grace, and Southern hospitality. My blog is where I share a glimpse of my life, and I hope you’ll find the thoughts here encouraging!

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