Back to School {The First Week}

In my Back to School – Planning post I talked a little about what we were doing for the year and how we were fitting it all in. In this post I’d like to just recap our week. I’m not always good about doing this weekly but the first week is always important to me, even if I’m finally finished writing about it 3 weeks later! It is my way of scrapbooking digitally our year and there is just something indescribably special about the first week. The kids are excited for what’s to come. I’m excited for what’s to come. Everything is ripe with possibility even as we stumble through getting the daily rhythm down.

So how was our first week?

Math and Art were our biggest hits for the week.

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For math we’ve switched to Khan Academy this year for our oldest son. His dad started using it to sharpen his own Algebra skills over the summer and Gabe started sitting down beside him and helping him work out problems. He absolutely loves it. Khan is self-paced, independent, and FREE! We had already been using Khan for history, science, art, and math supplementation (they have great videos and now they’ve teamed up with the guys who do Crash Course whom my kids LOVE and we use for history and science) so this was a natural carryover for him. Since Gabe is already a year ahead in math, using Khan will give him the independence to move ahead at his own pace. He may end up doing two years in one this year and be into Algebra by year’s end. We also allowed the other kids to try it since Khan does have math all the way down to an early elementary level, but we found after a few days of trying that they still preferred their Teaching Textbooks for math.

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Although Teaching Textbooks is very pricey, I LOVE their program. It is set up tutorial-style so each kid is completely 100% taught on the computer without me. It is great for auditory and visual learners or for those that need someone to sit with them step by step through each problem. It does automatic grading and my kids love it. That is enough for me to spend the hefty price tag. Plus, we discovered that the book is actually just a repeat of what they are already doing during the lessons and a needless piece so we’ve eliminated that this year and gave each kid their own spiral notebook to use for working out math problems. That saves us $30 for each program. And you can use them with more than one child so we are only buying one year at a time and by next year won’t have to buy any. While the 2nd and 3rd grader are doing their math independently on the computer, it frees me up to work with Ivy and Eli with their Pre-K math and phonics.

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Art was also well received this week. Mainly, because we actually did it! Every year I have these great intentions for art and music and every year life gets in the way and then they get bumped for the more “important” subjects that are required. So this year I decided no more. Creativity is a must for me to flourish and it is extremely important for my ten year old girl as well. This year we bought everyone their own sketch pad and we labeled them all pretty and are keeping them organized in an inexpensive tote from Michael’s. For the two littles, I used a primary composition notebook and  covered it in pretty scrapbook paper and then laminated the covers to keep them sturdy for the whole year. This allowed them to be cheaper (twenty five cents back to school sale!) and keeps them accessible for their age range.

Our first week of art we read the Drawing Rules in Drawing in Color and talked about how their is no wrong way to draw. We read ish and Dot, which the littles especially loved and imitated immediately in their notebooks. Our first assignment was to draw whatever we liked. Each child shared their picture and everyone said one thing they really liked about each picture as well as one thing they would like to improve upon for the year. The kids did not want the afternoon to end and it has inspired Lily to check out several drawing books at the library and she has been practicing every night. This year we will be focused on learning to draw animals in pencil using a combination of youtube tutorials and Drawing Animals in Nature with Lee Hammond . This will mesh very well with our zoology science course.

Zoology, unfortunately, started off a little rocky. I was so excited to start the lesson with a great hands-on, visible way for them to understand the concept of classification through classifying legos. This ended up with mostly fighting over said legos and Norah ended up teething and crying for a huge chunk of our time. It was a bit of a letdown for me because I have such huge expectations for this year’s zoology lineup. Our second week fared way better after a trip to Fontenelle Forest to pick up our Vertebrate/Invertebrate Educator’s Trunk and the kids got to handle and feel all kinds of bones and animal skins. My favorite was the owl skull and bobcat skull. After examining everything, the older two got to dip into their first experiment and the littles played an online classification game, all was right again in our science world.

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We kicked off our first week of history by diving into Columbus and the Age of Exploration. The younger ones listened to me read from A Child’s History of the World, which I just adore, while they happily constructed ships out of our magformers. They colored and notebooked and then finished off their time playing an online game about Christopher Columbus.

The older two are doing history with daddy again this year. He is a huge history buff and has a wonderful conversational Socratic method style of teaching that our kids just love. They are watching the Crash Course World History and US History videos in conjunction with their reading and then join me on another day of the week for fun history where we get to watch the Horrible History videos, watch fun songs and do map work. Favorite song of the week: Fifty Nifty United States. I learned this song in fifth grade and it has stayed with me to this day. I am giddy passing it on to my children. They are song nerds in the same way I am. Okay, maybe I’m a bit more of a song nerd but they really do love this song. This has been our constant car-schooling anthem for the past couple of weeks to go with our geography study for the year.

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I’ve been most impressed with Ivy this week. Being 5 and “officially” starting kindergarten, I wasn’t sure how involved she’d be for the multi-age taught subjects like history, science, and geography. We always have stuff planned for the littles but beyond their basic 3 R’s in the morning, we don’t require them to do school. They are free to play or watch an educational video. But she’s stuck with us through much more then I thought she would. She played the Columbus history game like her older siblings, she’s colored history sheets while listening to the stories and she’s even picked up on the Latin we’ve been studying. And her coloring has taken a dramatic turn for the better since school has started. I perceive that she will show the most overall growth this year.

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Latin was by far the most unexpected successful subject of the week. We discovered Classical Academic Press by accident last year through their sister site HeadAdventureland.com which is full of fun, free latin videos!!! (Check out our fave…The Three Little Pigs!) The older two have totally resonated with the DVD chants in the Latin for Children, Primer A. They love doing the activities and discussing everything with their dad over coffee. And the younger 2-4, depending on if the two littles join us, are throughougly enjoying SongSchool Latin. It is SO kid-friendly and fun that the kids can’t wait to do Latin and have told all their friends they should too. Even I have awoken in the middle of the night with a catchy Latin song stuck in my head. Makes me want to check out their SongSchool Latin Spanish.

I also enjoyed doing Bible with the littles this week. We read out of Vos’s Child’s Story Bible starting again at the beginning. And I was once again captivated by the way she conversationally draws the little ones into the story while simultaneously weaving Christ’s redemption story in from the very beginning pages of Genesis. This is by far the BEST story Bible I’ve ever read. The children sat and listened spellbound and asked for more when I was done. Can’t ask for more than that!

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Some other fun highlights of our first week…

The girls temporarily dying their hair purple and pink.

Enjoying playing golf during recess time.

Building nanoblocks during free time.

Watching caterpillars emerge as butterflies!

Taking care of pet toads.

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I’m so excited to see how the rest of our year unfolds.

How was your first week of school?

The First Snow

Don’t you just LOVE the first snow? It’s always so exciting especially with little ones in the house! This is Eli’s first year comprehending what snow is and Ivy (3) is extra excited this year about this white sparkly stuff.

“Mom, mom, mom…..come quick! There’s white puffy sparkles coming down from the sky!”

Can’t beat that!

Even better, since we homeschool this sort of thing weaves perfectly into our day. I quickly grabbed a few well-chosen books and my camera as they gazed out the window and had an impromptu science lesson for the littles while the older two worked on math and history.

 

 

We read “Why Does It Snow?”  (a Just Ask series) and talked about snow crystals all having six points but each being unique unto itself. We discussed and narrated how snow forms in the clouds and comes to fall here. Next we read “In the Snow: Who’s Been Here?” by Lindsay Barrett George which is a fun little book that takes kids through an exploratory adventure through the snowy woods. Each page has a clue of an animal visiting and then asks the reader to guess which animal it was. I let each child take turns guessing then turning the page to see if they were right.

After that we suited up and headed outside with some dark felt to catch snow crystals. I’m pretty sure more snow was eaten than captured but the thought was there. The snowflakes were too small this time to really see the distinction of crystal patterns and my kids lost all our good magnifying glasses. Still, they had a fun 15 minutes running all their energy off.

Now, lest you think this day was shrouded in warm fuzziness because of these beautiful pictures, (And aren’t they beautiful? Just look at that magnolia bud frosted in snow!) just know that we still had our share of school battles today. I spent over an hour arguing and standing my ground on making a six year old little boy finish a phonics lesson that he could’ve finished in five minutes. It was as if his memory was suddenly erased on everything he’d learned phonics-wise so far this year. And his poor five year old sister was every-so patiently sitting next to us waiting her turn while helping me clean flash cards and did finish her’s in less than five minutes when we finally got to her. So never let the pretty pics fool you into thinking our day was something other than what it was…just a day. Beautiful moments captured between ordinary, trying times! In other words, life!

Other books we’re planning on reading today ~

  

An unexpected surprise…


Here we are again!

Bun number seven in the oven warming. As if my life wasn’t blessed enough {wink, wink}, we are adding joy to our numbers. Expected to be here mid June of next year, already the kids are spending every evening meal fighting and voting over names.  So far, Rauga (from Bay Blade) is top pick for boys and Dora is top pick for girls. Ummmm….no?

Names aside, the kids are super excited. Our dinner converstion the week before (I am NOT making this up):

Them: “Mommy, when are we going to have another baby?”

Me: “Why?”

Them: “Because Eli isn’t anyone’s big brother and he needs to be a big brother too.”

Me: “We are NOT having another baby just so Eli can be a big brother!”

Guess the jokes on me!

Because sometimes you just have to say yes!

Even though you know there is bound to be paint somewhere that needs scrubbing despite ALL the paint already tucked up and away on the highest shelf.

Even though little hands will not follow ever-so-carefully demonstrated directions of how to keep colors seperated and beautiful.

Even though it takes way longer to prepare to paint then it does to actually partake in painting.

Even though the very thought of allowing paints out makes you cringe in absolute fear and terror.

Sometimes you just have to say yes because there will never be a right time and you can’t imagine any other project that brings such intense joy and concentration to their sweet faces.

This is the mantra I’m still telling myself. I took pictures to prove to me how right I was to say yes. I knew I had to because tomorrow when I do find that mysterious paint spill somewhere other than where they painted, I will need to look at the pictures and remind myself all over again why I said yes as I alternate breathing and counting to ten and scrubbing.

 

~ Taking a Breather ~

Chrrp chrrp chrrp…

Do you hear that? That’s the sound of the crickets chirping in this lonely cyber space.

In the midst of getting ready to close on our new house (Don’tcha love the sold sign?), I’ve been a busy busy beaver around here and haven’t had much time to post.

We are packing, packing, packing.

Still homeschooling among the boxes. (Hope to backtrack when I get some time and post all the great living World War I books we used!)

It looks so empty with all our books packed up. Sniff sniff…

And painting…can’t forget the painting. It’s easy lunches in the living room so that parts of bunk beds can get painted white  on our dining room table (way too cold to do outside!) to be all ready for this wonderful princess space. Can’t wait to show off the final product!

Still to do:

  • Pack coat closet.
  • Pack bathroom closet.
  • Pack kitchen.
  • Finish packing scrapbook supplies.
  • Clean desk (a.k.a. file the HUGE stack of papers and find homes for random stuff that’s been dropped off here) and finish packing office supplies.
  • Finish painting.

And the littles? 

They are merrily jumping on beds…with permission this time! We broke down bunk beds (i.e. see painting) and piled all mattresses in one room. They are “camping out” for the next 2 weeks. This makes a great space for daddy, his guitar and our nightly devos!

All the dressers have been moved into the other bedroom along with the toys. So we now have a designated toy space so I have room to pack. At least, that is how it works in theory! I must say I do like having all their clothes in one room. We paired them down quite a bit so all 6 children’s hanging clothes fit in one double closet. It is nice doing laundry and then putting everything away in one space. It makes me think that Michelle Duggar was on to something!

But today?

Well, today is no chores day. We had pop tarts for breakfast (Did I mention how we are on the easy convenience meal plan right now? My kiddos love it.) on paper napkins. No dishes. Laundry caught up yesterday. Most packing done. So this morning I will enjoy a cup of coffee and have a guilt-free morning blogging around and pinning stuff to my boards. Oh how I have house love right now!

Where I am visiting this morning:

 

The First Snow

I love it when the first snow is big, soft downy flakes that fall like soft pillows on the grass and are perfect for catching on your tongue! This was Eli’s first time in the snow since he was born. Oh they are so cute! Our trip into town has obviously been cancelled. Instead we will be enjoying hot cocoa and maybe a movie…Harriet the Spy anyone? Good thing I had a thawed chicken that I could throw in the crockpot last minute to braise since our dinner plans were also cancelled!

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How Was Your Day, Dear?

Want to inspire your children to write?

I found these completely cute how was your day printables over at Silverbox Creative Studio. Can’t wait to print these out for my oldest two. I think my scrapper girlie girl will especially love them! Great for a journal or just to tuck into a book bag with an after school note to say mom loves you.

Courtesy of Silverbox Creative Studio

Pinned this. Don’t forget to check out my other pins!