Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Joys of a Typical Day of Homeschooling

Okay, first, there is no typical day of homeschooling...at least not in my book. We have good days, okay days, and not so good days. Most days are good days, especially when we stick with our BASIC SCHEDULE:
Wake up 8:30-9:00am
Breakfast 9:00-9:15am
Clean up
Make bed(s)
Get dressed
Brush Teeth
Get glass of water for school
Class time 10:00am-Noon
Lunch time Noon or 12:30
Cooking and Clean up
Class time 1pm-3pm
Tea Time 3:00-3:30pm
PBS Kids TV time ok till 5:30pm
Dinner time 6:00-6:30pm
Chore time
Free time/play time/family read time
Bedtime Routine & snack 9:00pm
Yes, I do need reminded to brush our teeth, etc. There is a whole other "schedule" for the Bedtime Routine. The weirdest things get my family off schedule...like when the time changes so that you would expect everyone to get up earlier...we somehow get up later.... I don't get it. Anyway, we have been way off schedule lately, but slowly working ourselves back to getting to bed on time & getting up on time.

This new school year, we have been studying the Revolutionary War. This week, I've followed up with a lapbook and some other activities on Benjamin Franklin and Paul Revere. So, yesterday, we are working on the Benjamin Franklin Lapbook and my dear darling daughter says, "Benjamin Franklin is so dreamy." And she says it just exactly like some young girl mooning over a steamy heartthrob. I was both amused and a little thrilled (because she is not mooning over some teenage heartthrob at the tender age of almost nine), but I asked her about it later. She explained that he is dreamy because he dreamed up such cool inventions (she LOVES Science); she also informed me that she would rather dream about Eragon, not an old guy. Both of the kids are very much into the Inheritance Cycle written by Christopher Paolini (homeschool graduate at age 15), but that's a story for a whole other post.

That explained, one of the other things we are working on with ol' Ben Franklin is his Chart of 13 Virtues from www.HomeschoolPatriot.com. A couple of those virtues being Order and Industry, which reminded us how badly we needed to get serious about getting back to our Basic Schedule. So, last night everyone got ready for bed on time, but we still didn't quite make it to bed on time.

This morning, I decided to set my alarm for 9:30, instead of 8:30 or 9:00am. I thought, "We don't really take that long to ready." Well, yes we do....so, we started school late. Which means we'll finish up after the kids get done watching their favorite PBS shows. Which is not a big deal, because those four scheduled hours of school are just what they are "scheduled hours," we generally have at least two more hours of school and up to six more hours of school on any given day. How many additional hours, depends on what we're studying and how into things the kids get. I may have mentioned this in a previous post, but it is not uncommon at my house for the kids to come to me in the evening and say, "We're ready!". To which I respond with, "Ready for what?" (I'm usually in the middle of something and truly have no clue!). The answer is then: "School!". Well, how can you deny a child who wants to learn? Just to keep it real, I must say there have been plenty of times that the children have whined and complained and dragged their feet, saying things like "Do we have to do school today?".

I have to tell another cute one from this week. Yesterday, Ellie asked if she could save her copywork for "homework." I said, "All of your schoolwork is homework, but if you want to save it for later, that's fine." Too adorable.

My dear Wyatt learned a good lesson yesterday. He was messing around and not doing what I instructed him to do with the Benjamin Franklin Lapbook. I really thought he would be excited about the lapbook, because he would get to cut and paste, and we haven't done lapbooks since Co-op the year before last. He was too excited that he'd figured out how to make a balloon out of a big black trash bag. I admit I have been pretty lax on him, but this is first grade now, Mister! So, he had to stay "after school" to finish his lapbook and missed all but thirty seconds (according to Wyatt) of Arthur (which Ellie got to watch all of, because she listened and finished her work). He was wonderfully on task today, with just a little reminder of yesterday.

I am constantly trying to figure out new things to do for Spelling, Reading and Math...things to make them interesting and enticing. They seem to be the subjects that cause the most groans and complaints (though Wyatt loves Math himself...unless he hears Ellie start complaining). So, today I tried something completely different for Spelling. I printed off some spelling words which I figured would be doable for both of them and we had a Sort-of Spelling Bee. We had a little trouble with taking turns, because one would start spelling a word they knew, even if it wasn't their turn. They were VERY excited. So excited this went on for an hour! Ellie knew quite a few of the words, and Wyatt sounded them out to spell them like a little champ.

Both kids can be very brother and sister competitive and argumentative (though they can also be the best of friends). They both got really upset when the other one started spelling a word that didn't belong to them, so this is something you wouldn't see in a regular classroom, but we took mmm....four, I think, Scream Breaks. When they started to yell at each other, I yelled, "I think we've all got a mark in Moderation!" (In our Franklin Virtue Charts, you put a mark when you "transgressed the virtue."). Then I said, "I think we all need to scream for a minute." So, we plugged our ears and screamed our heads off for a minute (good thing we live out in the country!). Then everyone was smiles and giggles. It wasn't long before they were doing very well at taking turns and keeping their mouths shut when it wasn't their turn. Thanks to the scream breaks I didn't have to break up any fights, yell, or punish anyone! When I was growing up and working on my temper, I used to go to my room and scream in my pillow. I'm sure one of the scream breaks was just for the fun of being allowed to scream, but I went along with it anyway.

I decided that I should keep my camera in the classroom, because I would've got the funniest pictures today. The kids were getting silly at the end the the Sort-of Spelling Bee. Ellie started writing her word on the chalkboard as she spelled it, so Wyatt wanted to write his, too. I asked them to each erase their word when they were done, so the board would be ready for the next person. Well, chalk dust got to flying and Ellie said she was going for some safety glasses. I figured she meant her reading glasses, and Wyatt took off for his glasses, too. They hurried back and Ellie had her Daddy's sunglass safety glasses that he uses for mowing and weed eating. Wyatt had his glasses with his sunglass clip. They were both full of giggles then. Ellie was pretending she couldn't see and feeling around for the chalk and eraser. But we made it through the last dozen words. Oh, and they dusted the chalkboard eraser on their shirts...picture that one...with sunglasses, on black and navy blue shirts.

Earlier today, the kids were doing some fill in the blank and I had to use the facilities. So, I told Ellie to help Wyatt with spelling the words. He started to pitch a fit. I hollered, "Ellie is my TA and you will let her help you!" I got back and she had helped him finish his fill in the blank and there was no trouble. That was a wonderful moment.

We've been reading the Kingdom Series by Chuck Black as a family. Many people call this Read Aloud Time. Anyway, my Hubby asked for some books to take with him on a plane ride and I took both of my Knights of Arrethrae books out to send with him. He only took one, but was raving about it when he got home. He then volunteered to buy all the other books available in the series. Awesome! Since I won my first book from the Heart of the Matter, I started with Sir Kendrick and the Castle of Bel Lione (the kids and I LOVED it!) and I did not realize what the Kingdom Series was until later. Anyway, everyone gets excited for reading the Kingdom Series at night. We are on book 3: Kingdom's Edge.

Ellie just interrupted me to ask me to help fix her bath! At 6:30pm! She is serious about keeping marks out of the Cleanliness line on the Franklin's 13 Virtues Chart. Which is great, because she's been at the point (which I remember around her age) where you practically begged her to take a bath. She said, "We need to get back on schedule! I want to be ready for bed early tonight...by 7 o'clock!"

Tea Time is our snack time. I do usually have my combination dandelion and mint or berry green tea (dandelion root has calcium and is also good for the liver). Ellie sometimes has
"Grandpa Dale Tea," which is instant Nestea with sugar. I used to watch Arthur with them. Now I use that time to try and go through my e-mail and freebie downloads at lightening speed. I finished at 3:35pm today...a personal record. I have been trying to do so much better about my computer time. That definitely goes along with some of the 13 Virtues we're working on.

Another thing I've done this year to make more good days is finally put a message on my cell phone which says "If you got this message, class is in session. Leave me a message, and I'll call you back." I can't tell you how many times I was in a session at the Homeschool Conferences, or read a blog post, or homeschool magazine article where someone recommended either putting a message like that on your voice mail or just turning off the phone during "school hours." We also got rid of our house phone over the summer, so all my calls have "caller id" on my cell phone and I don't have to wonder who didn't call and didn't leave a message. Even though we were on the "No Call List," we still got plenty of worthless calls during the day which interrupted school. I have such relief from putting that message on my phone. Why I couldn't just let it go to voice mail before, I don't know, but I say: whatever works!

I also have to say meal planning is my friend! If I plan the evening meals and Hubby's meals for his lunch with him, life is so much smoother. The kids and I eat whatever during the day; we all like the same simple things. Actually, I'm getting a chicken ready to put in the crockpot to make soup for tomorrow (that everyone, but Wyatt likes). I plan meals a week at a time. If we plan farther, it always seems like something happens and none of the meals work out.

Right now we're finishing listening to Listen My Children, an old time radio show about the life of Paul Revere that I downloaded from "Living Books for the Ears" aka homeschool radio shows. Ellie is especially excited about playing Rachel Revere now in her American Girls play: The Founding Daughters of America.

Well, I guess that's it for today. I have requests to read Berenstain Bears and Our 50 States. I just heard the washing machine beep, and I still need to get that chicken in the crockpot!

You can read more "Day-In-The-Life" Posts on the Not Back-to-School Blog at Darcy's Life with my 3 Boybarians. There's just one more week in her Blog Hop.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Walking to School in Socks

Today was our first official day in the new classroom. Ellie has been dying to have school in the new room. This morning she was so cute, as we were preparing to go downstairs. She had packed her backpack, because she has to have her art supplies with her wherever she goes. She was saying something about walking to school in her socks, or taking the bus, or just walking to school in general...I can't remember the exact thing she said, but we got into a whole conversation about the subject of school transportation.

I told her that her Daddy used to walk to school. He lived in a city and they didn't have a bus that took him to school. He also went to a private Catholic School, so I'm not even sure they had a bus at all. Anyway, she didn't know her Daddy used to walk to school (just a three or four blocks the way I remember him showing me). She was quite surprised.

On the other hand, I explained that I lived too many miles from school to walk. Walking to school would've been too dangerous where I had to walk, from our subdivision across the viaduct that crossed a major highway. I was the first one on the bus and the last one off the bus. Oh, that was the longest ride to my public school (and home!)!!

Wish I could've walked a couple minutes to school in my socks!

First Field Trip of the Year!

Yesterday we went on our first field trip of the new school year. We started doing the Kansas City Passport to Adventure last year. The Passport is a booklet that you pick up at one of the partipating locations and get stamped. Each location has a question to answer. After the child answers the question, they get a small prize, like sticker, a pin, a ruler, etc. The locations are all Museums, Living History Locales, or Nature Conservatories; which means they are all educational. If the child gets stamps at 15 of the 22 locations before the end of October, they send in their passport for a prize package. We tried to do the passport last year, but didn't complete the required stops to get the kids their prize package in time.

This year, we got in on the first day of the Passport to Adventure at our last Co-op field trip to Missouri Town. The summer did not go as planned, so until yesterday, the kids still just had one stamp on their passports. My friend, Colleen, and her kids are working on their passports, too. She suggested we go to two places yesterday. We agreed, so we all packed pinics and set out for Burr Oaks Woods Conservation Nature Center and Kemper Outdoor Education Center.

I think my kids were a little disappointed that the Conservation Center no longer had the giant log inside to play puppets, but that did have a cool giant frog that we took pictures on. We walked the Tree Trail at Burr Oaks, along with the Guide and Activity Sheet from the mailbox at the beginning of the trail. I think everyone had a great time; although we were all sticky and sweaty by the time we finished the trail. The worst part was the bugs that invaded our picnic: giant ants and daddy-long-legs spiders.

At Kemper Outdoor Center, the butterfly garden was gorgeous. There were quite a few interesting things to see inside, but the kids all like the black cat that was running around. The most interesting thing for me was the frogs and the GIANT tadpoles. These tadpoles "heads" were at least as big as a child's fist!! I'd never seen tadpoles that weren't smaller than my own fingers (at least not that I remember!). The tadpoles were inside of a beautiful goldfish pond.

I should've had Ellie take the waterbottle out of her scooter pocket. I do not look like myself. Those are my old glasses, but I wear them often with the kids. They are very sturdy.
Two field trips in one day, and more school when we got home (as requested, or rather begged, by the children) is my idea of a pretty good day of school!

Extreme Homeschool Room Makeover

Darcy, at Life with my 3 Boybarians, is hosting a "Not Back-to-School Blog Hop", and I noticed that this week is sharing classrooms. So, I just had to participate! For those of you reading that don't homeschool, it's Not Back-to-School for a couple of reasons, some of us never stop schooling and also we don't go "back" anywhere really, because we live at school. :)

I've been waiting to post these pictures. I so LOVE our new classroom! I can't believe I didn't think of re-arranging the basement and doing this years ago. Of course, I didn't have my cool library shelves until this year. Our garage is attached upstairs to our ranch style house, so we have a huge basement. The classroom got put in the area formerly used for the playroom, but it was a bad area for either use. It always has to have a sort of "hallway" to the bathroom in the basement (which you can see in at least one picture). Now I've moved our family room to that area, which naturally has a space between the furniture and the television and kitchenette are.

So, here are a couple of BEFORE pictures of our classroom and new/used shelves:

I know you're wondering how we schooled in the colorful trash pit. Well, we didn't. We did school on the kitchen table and the dining room coffee table last year. I would come down to the "pit" and collect what we needed. What we used all the time, I kept in this cool basket with a flip top lid that I got on clearance at Wal-mart. The year before, the classroom was lovely and we really enjoyed our time there. Then, well, life happens and that is how the "classroom" ended up.

The shelves look much better in this picture than they did in real life, so we (the kids & I) painted them star-gazer blue. Wyatt and I painted the ceiling of our basement (which is not a real ceiling, but just floor joices and floor boards, since we had termites that were found in the second year we lived here). The kids & I also painted the floor mallard green. I finally have almost all my books in one location (well, since I had my own bedroom; before marriage)! I've always wanted a library, so this is our library/classroom.

Here are the AFTER pictures:

The welcome sign was made for the kids by their newest Aunt Connie, when we went to visit their Uncle Ed in D.C. for Thanksgiving 2008. She put the sign, along with their names on the door of the room they were sharing. The kids saved the sign, and we use it for our classroom now.

I got the vintage metal/wood desks at the Goodwill. I found the antique wood desks at a local antique mall.

This is my desk. Right next to Strawberry Shortcake Chalk Board. Best garage sale buy ever. My cousin is so jealous. The poster above my desk is autographed by Bryan Busby, a local weather forecaster. We got to see him at the library at a homeschool program a couple years ago.

Ah, my books. A collection of my lifetime. I love the look of a library. And the white ceiling is so bright and nice.

This is on the way out the door of our classroom. You can see the old fashioned school type pencil sharpener on the bookshelf to the right, just above the trash can. There is a close up picture of the supply shelf just a little below this. The lamp really is a working gumball machine. I haven't used it in years. I think I'll clean it up and put some candy in it for rewards. Next to the lamp is the former home of our caterpillar turned butterfly. The chrysalis still hangs on it's branch.

There hangs my Familyman Homeschool Cartoon Calendar. We have gotten, and will continue to get, lots of use out of the comb book binder that we have on loan from my parents. And there is that pencil sharpener again. I really do like having an old school pencil sharpener.
The supply shelf. I was hoping to have room for paper on here, too, but there is really not enough room, with all the other stuff. I did manage to fit on a roll of freezer paper for art and a small stack of writing paper.

Here are my cuties, playing school while I take pictures.

The other view of my scholars. Yes, they do raise their hands while we're having class. Although I don't make them.

Well, like I said, I LOVE our new classroom! I like to just sit in it, or look at it. The one thing I noticed today is that I need a clock somewhere that I can look at it from my desk, instead of hitting a button on my cell phone to check the time every little bit. Hope you enjoyed the virtual tour!

P.S.-There is still lots of work to do on our basement. I'll have to post again when the arts & crafts area, playroom, and family room are complete.

P.P.S.-This is not to say that we sit in desks for eight hours a day. The Academy of the Gospel is not limited to one room of our house, or even our whole house. Learning is a part of life, something we don't box in. I think the major point of having a Homeschool Classroom is to have a place to put all the Homeschool Stuff.