Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

School on the Go and Art Boards

This week has been our most hectic week yet. A company that I used to work with had a meeting Tuesday, and I was invited to go, so we loaded up school work that the boys could do independently and took it with us. I wasn’t sure how they would do in a more public setting with a thousand distractions, but I was pleasantly surprised. PeaGreen, especially, did very well. He breezed through his workbook pages and was on to bigger and better things (which in this case meant Lego’s and socializing with his friends). LittleBoyBlue was distracted, but after a while, got his work done, too.

Today was playgroup; we left a little bit early so we could drop our library books off before, and the boys went over their spelling words in the car, then the workbook page for today while we waited for the group to show up. We met with 2 friends who homeschool, and also a new family that also homeschools. We did our craft and then went to the park to play and get to know our new friends a bit better. It was really nice to see how homeschooling “works” in other families. I always come away from a meeting like that with good ideas and more enthusiasm for working with my own kids.

My friend SFK and her two daughters, who are close in age to the boys, came back to the house and the kids played while SFK and I started a book discussion. It’s one I’ve really been looking forward to as it is meant to help explore the spiritual beliefs that we were raised with, how they’ve changed and what traits and values we are trying to instill in our children. She and I always have good discussions, and tend to get sidetracked into other topics, but we covered today’s questions pretty well and got a lot of other chit-chat in besides.

The kids had an awesome time; my boys adore her girls and the feelings seem to be mutual, so it’s a good match. They tend to pair off – I say “tend” – really, it’s a patter of two Wednesdays. With this age that may not hold, of course; next week they may all hate each other.

The girls brought a Wii game, WiiMusic, to play and it’s probably one we’ll pick up. After dinner, my husband took the kids out to do some fireworks – one of the benefits of living outside the city as we do – and let them run around with sparklers. Since the boys fell asleep as soon as they got into bed this evening, I’m thinking they had a great day!

We didn’t get a lot of “formal” school time in today, but the things they did on their own amaze me. At the park, there was a crew of workmen and women from the city spreading mulch on the playground. One of the men was missing his arm from mid-humerus. The kids were fascinated by him and talked to him for at least an hour while he worked. They helped push mulch around, and helped the team put playground pebbles in a water hole – so between the actual work they were doing and conversation with him, they learned quite a bit about him and about his job and why they’re putting mulch in the park.

They found a bunch of tennis balls around the park, too, so they were throwing them up on the steeply angled roof of the picnic pavilion (no one was under it) and letting them roll off. That’s their math and science lesson for today (angles, experimenting with different areas of the roof and observing where the balls would land, gravity). Then we hit the library, which is next to the park, and the kids read with K… all in all, even though we didn’t “do school”, there was still a lot of learning going on.

Now that the boys are in bed, I’ve been looking up art projects for the next few weeks. This blog, That Artist Woman, has some AWESOME how-to’s. We’re going to start making Pysanky (Ukrainian Easter eggs) in the next week or so, and have a project lined out for next week with the girls. I’m excited!

She (That Artist Woman) recommends art boards to do projects on, both to save tabletops and to give art projects a stable base to move them or dry on. She recommends getting inexpensive (I forget what it’s called – the same stuff clipboards are made of) at the home improvement store and letting them cut it for you. I have a bunch of cardboard boxes waiting to go out, so I cut them up, layered them with glue and taped the edges with duct tape and have some (more or less) free art boards of good size. We’re going to test them out tomorrow. I’ll let you know how they work.

I also found a lesson plan on weaving on a cardboard loom today that I want to try with the boys soon. I’m putting it here for future reference.


Updated July 2010: I’ve been meaning to update this for a while. On the cardboard art boards  – scratch that – it’s a bad idea. We’ve found that for painting, they’re okay, but any kind of drawing will be messed up (unless you’re going for a textured look). The pen, pencil, pastel, chalk – it all picks up the corrugation marks. I found hardboard panels here, or you can check your local home improvement store for hardboard (I think it’s called that – it’s the same material that old school clip boards are made from) panels. You can have them cut to size or get several sizes and many stores will even round off the edges for you. That’s a much more firm board and it is utterly smooth – perfect for drawing and coloring on.  ~h


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