Every year, I am surprised at how quickly January flies by. Here we are mid-February, and I am still honestly surprised at how quickly this month has flown by. We’ve been slightly busier than usual (and that’s really saying something). Since I last checked in, we’ve managed to wrap up our first 6 weeks of school and are currently enjoying the last few days of our first official break. If you’re new, we follow a 6-on/1-off schedule. It’s true what they say about ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same’; the first time I ever heard about this kind of schedule for school was when our local ISD did a trial of it for a single school year. The original idea was that with a year-round schedule, the kids don’t get bored and burned out during the year, and don’t have a months-long break during the summer to lose half of what they’d learning, and the first 6 weeks of the new school year isn’t wasted on catching up. It was a great idea -so much so that it’s stuck with me and I knew that’s what I wanted to try when we started homeschooling. We started out with 6-on/1-off, and have gone through various revisions of it over the years, but we’re back there now and it’s working beautifully.
As I said, this is our off week, and I have to admit that as much as I love the busy schedule we keep, I have absolutely reveled in the last few days of being just home, home, home with few responsibilities (other than the bare minimum required to keep the children alive and basic hygiene requirements met). I even opted out of our homeschool group’s classes this week, which was actually a tiny bit painful, but I really needed the break. Next week, we’ll be back into the swing of things, full stop.
Over the last few weeks, it seems like we’ve been everywhere, seen all the people and done all the things! For the last few months, we’ve been volunteering with our local Atheists Helping the Homeless group, SETX AHH. This month was the largest turnout of volunteers since the group got started back in October 2015, and we were happy to be there to help. My boys, and some of the other kids in our homeschool group manned one of the tables, helping assist mean and women filing up their bags, and directing them to some of the organizers if they had questions the kids couldn’t answer. If your local area has an AHH group, we’ve found our group to be very kid-friendly (with a few FAQs that you might want to consider), and it’s a great opportunity to have the kids involved and actively working with the community.
We try to mix our field trips up each year, and honor local and global culture when possible. Southeast Texas has a thriving Vietnamese community, and Chinese New Year is one of the holidays that the Vietnamese community celebrates each year. We celebrated the Year of the Monkey with a big picnic and craft day, followed by a dragon parade at the Tyrell Park Botanical Gardens.
Afterwards, the boys and I met at the library for the Teen Homeschool Book Club that our amazing librarian, Ms. Robin, hosts each month. The boys read Call of the Wild by Jack London, for this month’s selection. One of the moms is absolutely always on point with refreshments, and brought cupcakes for the kids to decorate, both for Valentine’s Day, and with an eye towards something from their book. LBB’s cupcake is meant to represent Francois from Call of the Wild; PeaGreen seems to have ignored that directive and opted for an inside joke reference with the other kids. I don’t know what the joke is, but they all got a kick out of it.
The boys also got to finish and present their Hawaii projects for our homeschool group’s social studies club. LBB talked about the Hawaiian Hoary Bat, with a drawn and painted diagram, and PG made a model of the Hawaiian Islands, and talked about island formation, and the volcanoes of Hawaii.
In other news, one of the dads in our group offered to host a Dungeons & Dragons Tutorial for the teens in our group, so we spent a Saturday learning how role-playing works. It was really fun, and we’re planning to give it another go soon. I always thought that D&D and other games like that (that were non-electronic and social) were good for developing creativity and I am pleased to see the kids taking an interest. Valentine’s Day was pretty low-key, as usual; we’re not big on a lot of the holidays, other than a nod of acknowledgement, but we did head out to my brother’s for dinner that evening. PeaGreen has spent the last few days there, so LBB and I got to spend some QT together. Today’s festivities included lunch, a coffee date and a long drive to pick up my other kidlet.
How’s your school year going so far?
and things are going well.
We have been hitting the books pretty hard; there are serious dents in the boys’ workbooks, which makes me insanely happy. I know that it ‘shouldn’t’, and that seeing piles of completed work doesn’t equal learning… but still, something about seeing those stacks of completed assignments (or at least grades in the computer) makes me feel like we’ve accomplished more than when I don’t see those things. Some habits are hard to break, I guess.
Anyway – if the boys keep moving at the pace they’ve set, then they’ll be done with this ‘year’ by December. I am in no rush, and we won’t start the new grade until I am sure they’re ready. For a bit, I thought that was a reasonable goal, but we really need to work on multiplication tables with PeaGreen, and LBB is into fractions with mixed numbers, so we’re camping out in those areas for the time being. We finally got the hang of GCF and LCM… so maybe things will be moving along soon.
Next up: decimals! (can you feel the excitement??)
We’ve pretty much combined Grammar, Spelling and Reading this year (as subjects). We’re still notebooking (Beethoven is our current notebooking project), and lapbooking (Minerals (on hiatus), The Continents, a Weather unit, and SOTW II (about to go on hiatus so we can work the Ancient Rome, Viking Adventure & Ancient Greece lapbooks from HomeschoolShare). I’ll have new pages up on those lapbooks when we’re done; almost all of those use templates from HomeschoolShare.com, but I’ve either changed or added things to them (of my own or from other places) to bring them up to the boys’ level.
I am really liking the ‘unit study’ theme and am considering bringing that concept more into play in January. There are several books I’d like to go through, but I would like the pressure off to complete ‘grade level’ work before we delve too much into them. When the boys were younger, we did FiveInARow, and I *loved* that… in the past year or so, we’ve strayed from CM-style learning and I am ready to get more into literature-based work again. I am considering getting Beyond Five in a Row as a guide for January.
Field trips are back in full swing as well. We’ve gone on a 2.2 mile hike and swim with our homeschool group, and had planned to hit the water park this past week, only to find out that they all closed over the weekend. I am bummed about that – summer is NOT over yet, even if school has begun for the majority of districts. We made up for it with a trip to a local sprinkler park (with thankfully remains open through September).
In other news, the boys both tested for their yellow belts in karate, and passed! Shamrocks and I will be testing in October (him for orange and me for yellow). I’ve noticed a definite improvement in my stamina over the last few months – I am much stronger now than I was when I started training.
Hmmm… oh – Minecraft. My kids (an I) are all addicted. So, rather than fight it, we’re using it. One way we’re incorporating gaming into education is by graphing out a building plan on graph paper and then building it in Minecraft. We play on XBox 360, and since it’s just me and the boys, it is less distracting (we don’t play online). We’re just creating simple designs at this point, but we will be creating more grand constructions in the future, and building cooperatively. There are also ideas at EduRealms.com that I’d like to try. It’s a little redundant for my boys (the journaling part will be new though). I am considering having them keep track of their resources on a daily basis (collected, used, lost, traded) when we start journaling as well. they both have created multiple servers and explored multiple seeds with different biomes… so they definitely get the creative and cooperative side to the game. As addictions go, this isn’t one I am complaining about.
We’ve also started another kitchen project – water kefir. So far, we’ve made strawberry lemonade and fruit punch and they’re super yummy! We usually drink water or tea (and we all know that this Mommy is a coffee fiend!), so this is a welcome alternative. It’s also a fun science lesson – watching the kefir grow and seeing the differences in taste after 24/48/36 hour fermentations.
Some other things we’ve been up to:
- school pictures (which I will have to update and post later since I am not at the right computer) – also part of the NBTS Blog Hop (that I am late in participating on).
(edited to add:
- I also added this year’s school pictures t the ‘school days’ frame that we have for each other boys (instead of keeping the pictures on my desk for 6 months, watching them get raggedy and worn before adding them to the frame).
- As always with picture-time, I made this year’s homeschool ID cards and educator ID card for myself, as well as homeschool group ID cards for the parents in our homeschool group, and updated my educator accounts with Barnes & Noble, JoAnn’s, School Aids, Office Depot… all those discounts add up!!
- I re-vamped the kids’ workboxes (which I think I already posted about, but will make a proper post of in the future).
- I’m about to embark on a massive household purge – I picked up a few super cheap clothes for the boys, then got home and realized that we’ve never cleaned out the too-smalls from the last few months. So between that and the piles of books that I’ve been hoarding, I seriously need to de-clutter (but then again, I always say that, don’t I?)
- …. I think that’s about it for now.
Hope your school year is off to a wonderful (and productive) start!
Last week, we celebrated Dr. Seuss’ birthday by making a new lapbook. I’d been seeing Dr. Seuss lesson plans popping up on Pinterest, so I already knew that I wanted to have a day filled with Dr. Seuss’ silly style goodness. I had all these great plans… but we had some car issues and ended up back and forth at the dealership and then a rental – so our fun was cut short.
But we still managed to have a pretty fun day! We started off with the Sneetches – book and video. Someone posted the movie a while back on YouTube, so we took a few minutes to read and watch, then compare.
The Sneetches video (full):
After that, I pulled a bunch of lapbook-esque resources from the web and we read The ABC Book, The Foot Book, There’s a Wocket in My Pocket and other Dr. Seuss favorites, then did an activity for each of the books. Here’s a list of the things I included in this lapbook:
- Notebooking Page: Theodor Geisel “Dr. Seuss“
- You are a Star (page 5 from the Sneetches download at Homeschool Share)
- How Many Feet, Whose Feet Are These?, Opposite Cards (Pages 2-6 of the Foot Book download from Homeschool Share)
- My Tongue Twister, Sock cards (pages 2-4 Fox in Socks download from Homeschool Share)
- pages 4 & 7-11 (One Fish, Two Fish download from Homeschool Share)
- pages 7-9 Cat in the Hat download from Homeschool Share
- pages 2 & 3 from Dr. Seuss’ ABC Book download from Homeschool Share
- http://www.passportacademy.com/‘s Wocket in my Pocket pop-up
Additional Dr. Seuss Resources that I’ll be looking at to add to our lapbook for next year:
I’d also planned on having green eggs and ham for lunch, making Cat in the Hat cupcakes and other fun little things… maybe next year!
How did you celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday?