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Our Homeschool (what our day is like, curriculum choices, etc.) ’ Category
Thursday, December 12th, 2013
Tis the season to be flexible! Some days we get quite a bit done, other days… not so much. I try to keep myself calm about that. Yesterday, for example, all our friends had a snow day. Often time we do school anyway, but the appeal of sledding and playing outside with friends won over!
Today, we were back to the normal homeschool schedule. Here are some of the things happening in our homeschool:
Math: Right now the kids’ absolute favorite part of our day is Math Circles (riddles, brain teasers and math challenges). The kids absolutely BEG for more! I’m loving that enthusiasm! Here are a couple of examples from this past week:
- Bob has only nickles and quarters. If he has 36 coins that total $3.40, how many of the coins are quarters?
- A mother tells her children, “All zebras have stripes.” Bella, Rachel and Ben draw their own conclusions from their mothers statement. Ben says, “If an animal has stripes, it has to be a zebra.” Rachel says, “If an animal has stripes, it can be a zebra.” Bella says, “If an animal does not have stripes, it is definitely not a zebra.” Who drew the correct conclusions and why?
- Find two numbers with a product of 56 and a sum of 15.
- If you want to print out some other math brain teasers you can go to this recent post.
I mentioned before how much the kids are loving Mathematical Circle Diaries. Still two thumbs up for that book!!
The kids are also working on problems in their regular math books as well. They generally spend about 10-25 minutes on that each day.
Meanwhile, ED has been really enjoying the Christmas math card games. DD has been playing the same games to practice her multiplication facts. Again, it’s such a bonus when the kids beg for more math time! Here, ED and I were playing the Place Value Game (Turn a card over, decide where it should go, place it down and try to build the largest number. Cards can’t be moved once they’re placed on the board.)
You can download various Christmas Number Cards and Game Ideas over at this post.
Language Arts: For a couple of weeks we were working on spelling and grammar. We still have a few more sentences to complete on the Comma Rules Practice sheets I made last week. (Note to self: finish that!) We also finished our biography project (more about that in another post).
But this week, we’ve gone back to doing our writing workshop. Our mini-lesson this week was on the 5 parts of writing. One day the kids had to come up with a “Grabber” beginning that hooked the reader right away. Another day, they had to think about how to end a story… and leave the reader thinking, feeling or laughing.
LD jumped right in to writing this week… not a complaint or a groan. :) This is a big step forward even from the beginning of the year. The writing workshop model works SO well for us now!! (If you want to read more about that you can read my series: Creating a Writing Workshop.)
You can download this page to print off if you’d like: 5 Parts of Writing
Reading: We finished Ella Enchanted a couple days ago– and we all loved, loved, loved the book! I would definitely recommend that for agest 5-10!
History/Geography: This semester we’ve been studying India. Last week we spent quite a bit of time learning how Arab traders helped spread Islam not only across North Africa and into West Africa, but also eastward into India. We reviewed some of the information we learned about Islam last year (see our free Islam Worksheets from last year). We spent some time comparing Hinduim (see our free worksheets) and Islam.
We went on to talk about the Moghul Empire and spent quite a bit of time on the fifth emperor, Shah Jahan. We read a number of books about the Taj Mahal and learned that it was built to honor Shah Jahan’s third wife who died in childbirth.
One thing I didn’t know was that in the 1830s, a British governor decided to destroy the Taj Mahal in order to sell the expensive marble in England so rich people could decorate their houses. Fortunately for history, few people in England were interested in buying the marble.
The kids enjoyed trying to draw the Taj Mahal. DD went on to draw several other famous buildings.
We went on to learn about British colonialism and the growth of the British Empire. On Friday we learned a bit about apartheid in South Africa and about Nelson Mandela. This week, we’ve learned more about British colonialism in India and how the British relied on India for raw materials such as cotton.
We started learning about Gandhi and read about his March to the Sea in 1930. Gandhi wanted to protest the British tax on salt and led people on a long march to the sea to make their own salt. The kids thought it was pretty clever to use sea water to make salt. We took the opportunity to “make sea water” and explore how when the water evaporated, the salt crystals were left behind.
(The kids made snowflakes, drawings and various other drawings with the salt water!)
Picture of Gandhi’s March to the Sea, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Meanwhile, the kids have been memorizing some of the geography of Asia — including the location of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and so forth.
German: The kids have been working on their Bobo Siebenschlafen stories and have had to study for a couple of quizzes (Their next quiz is tomorrow.) While we don’t “test” a lot in our homeschool, I do think it’s important for them to learn basic study skills.
Piano: Lots of Jingle Bells and Silent Night at our house these days!!
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Tuesday, November 26th, 2013
I thought I would put a post together that helps give a flavor of what our daily homeschooling routine looks like. So many of my posts are compilations of our activities, but they don’t actually show what happens day-to-day. It’s about time to do that again (and I enjoy reading these posts later as the kids get older!)
We have finally gotten back to a relatively normal schedule. (If you follow my blog you’ll have read that I had ear surgery in mid-October. It’s been a long recovery – more about that at the end of this post.) I use the word ‘schedule’ lightly, though, because our day ebbs and flows. We are quick to delve into a subject and spend more time when there is interest. We definitely don’t have a strict time-line we follow. And actually, no day is truly “typical” in our homeschool but I’ll describe what “could” happen!
Getting Our Day Started:
Most mornings ED and I are the first ones up. Usually when I head out to the kitchen, ED hears me and joins me to get her breakfast. I used to always read to her while she ate, but lately I’ve been putting the dishes away, making my coffee and hopping onto the computer for 5 or 10 minutes while she eats. By the time I finish with that, I grab my coffee and we head into the homeschool room. I make a fire in the woodstove and then she reads me one of her phonics readers. We have been using the series from Primary Phonics and she is now on the last set of 10.
Meanwhile, DD and LD have woken up and they get their breakfast and do some independent reading. They both love to read and it’s hard to tear them away from their books! While I was recovering from surgery, I had the kids choose a Newbery novel to read. They both finished those in the past week or so. LD read Wringer and DD read Ramona (She then went on to read several other books in that same series.) Now they’re on to other books. Sometimes they are so into their books that they join us in the homeschool room in front of the wood stove:
On Monday mornings, I’m still having to drive (45 minutes each way) to see my ear doctor. We’ve been listening to Ella Enchanted and the kids (and I) LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that book!! I highly recommend that if you have kids ages 5-12.
What Happens Next?
Honestly I have a mental list of all the things we could/should/would like to cover, but what we start with varies from day to day. And, we don’t always get to all of this, though that’s the goal.
Science and/or (usually OR) History — This is the most “hands-on” portion of our day. Sometimes we jump right in to activities. Sometimes I hold out the “exciting, hands-on stuff” until we get a few other things done. And sometimes, we just all jump onto the couch and simply do some reading together. We finished our science unit on Simple Machines about a week ago and we haven’t continued on to a science new unit. Instead, we spent most of last week finishing the Buddhism portion of our India unit. The kids loved the story books, we worked on the Asia map, and finished up the worksheet pack (which put Buddhism into the modern context. Where is Buddhism practiced today? How popular is it as a world religion, etc.). Sometimes we spend 15 or 20 minutes on science or history. Other times we’ll spend an hour or two or more (like when they really got into making pulleys!).
Language Arts — We spent a lot of time working on free writing (see the posts I wrote about Creating a Writing Workshop) and editing (Editor in Chief) at the beginning of the semester. The past few weeks, it was time to bring back in some spelling and grammar. For the past several years, we have been using All About Spelling. This program works extremely well for us. It focuses on various spelling rules and my son in particular like how logically it is laid out. ED demands to be a part of everything (I’ve written how she decided to join us in our writing workshop). She also said that she wanted to start doing spelling as well. I pulled out the first level and she is very happy with that. Here she is using the spelling tiles to create some short A words. She has been zipping through the first lessons of the book. I also brought out the grammar workbook that we use — called Write Source Skillsbook. It goes over the use of commas, apostrophes, etc. and I find the books a good match for our family. I also made some grammar sheets myself to really focus on some areas where they need work.
I forgot to mention that ED also is working on handwriting. She uses both Handwriting Without Tears and Power Practice Traditional Manuscript Handwriting.
Biography Project — While I was recovering from surgery, I wanted the kids to have a project that they could work on somewhat independently. My kids have not ever written a research paper. I wanted to start helping them learn how this is done.
I had them choose someone they wanted to learn more about and for the past three weeks they’ve been working on that project. They had to find their own books at the library and resources on the Internet. We went over proper bibliographic format and talked about how to do research and take notes, etc. I’ll share more about that in another post, but they’ve learned a lot about the writing process and their final project is due this Wednesday (before Thanksgiving). (They did only the research/writing project, not the poster or newspaper article projects.)
In the meantime, ED has been continuing to write in her writing workshop journal. Her entries are still mostly about cats or McKenna (an American Girl Doll), but she generally writes 3 or 4 sentences now.
Math — I’ve shared some of the fun stuff that ED has been doing (the Thanksgiving math and this post on Kindergarten Math). She enjoys playing various math games and will search through her math notebook for things to work on. Meanwhile, we’ve had some big changes in our math for my older two. LD and DD still do some daily work from their math books (fractions, long division and that sort of thing), but we’ve added in a new focus in our math day. We call it Math Circles after the Russian tradition of “showcasing the beauty of mathematics and its applications.” The kids absolutely love this portion of our day now. Those math brain-teaser riddles from yesterday on the blog and the other one over at my Facebook page are just a small snippet of why they love math circles! I need to write up another post — explaining what we’re doing — and sharing a number of the books we’re using. The kids BEG me to continue with math time now! Yes!! (Big fist waving in the air!) See this post on More Math Brain-Teasers (Free Printable) for a long explanation of how we’re trying to make math more engaging, challenging and fun.
Music and Art — Our plans for music and art were put on hold for the semester. In music, I really want the kids to have a better understanding of music theory and music notation (half-note, whole notes, quarter rests, knowing the notes on the staff, etc.). In art, I was excited by Meet the Masters… but it just hasn’t happened the past six weeks or so.
Rotations — The kids continue to work on several subjects (mostly) independently from me. We have a timer for each of them. They spend 10 minutes (or more if they want) on piano, German (listening to Bobo stories) and typing. (I sit down to work with the kids on new piano pieces or to go over new material for German, but not every day.) ED decided she should be doing this as well. She’s taken it upon herself to do most everything her older brother and sister do!
Sports and Extras — My kids have tried a bunch of different sports, but this fall we’ve settled into team gymnastics for my son, aerials and parkour for my daughter, DD. My youngest does a bit of gymnastics and parkour just once a week. The girls are both participating in Girl Scouts — as a Brownie and Daisy. They love their troops! That’s enough to keep us pretty busy!
My Ears — If you’ve been reading the blog this fall, you know that I’ve had big dramas with my ear surgery (which was Oct. 16). Pretty much any complication that could happen, has happened. I came out of the surgery rough and had to stay overnight. The ear hasn’t healed as it should and became infected (and was quite painful for a number of weeks). The strong antibiotic I was on has a side-effect of causing tendinitis in some people… I got Achilles tendinitis in both ankles. I got somethings called BPPV which causes incredibly bad dizziness/veritigo/nausea and I wasn’t able to drive for 10 days … Last week, I was finally feeling much better, but it wasn’t to last. The dizziness/nausea came back over the weekend. Plus, my ear doctor is unhappy with the way my skin graft is healing… and it’s looking like I’ll either need an in-office procedure (with the ear canal, etc. numbed) or will need to go back into the OR. I’m hoping, hoping it’s the former — so keep your fingers crossed for me!! Anyway, that’s why I’m still having to see the ear doctor once a week (as I was mentioning above).
Well — this is a HUGE long post, isn’t it? If you got to the end, thanks for reading!! ~Liesl
Other Related Posts:
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- What Is a Typical Homeschool Day is Like This Year (Sept. 2013)
- So How is Homeschool Life Going? (May 2013)
- What Do We Cover in our Homeschool Each Day?(Ages 9, 7, just-turned-5)
- The Day in the Life of a Homeschooler – Last Dec. 2012 (kids would have been 9, 7, 4)
- Our Week’s Round-up (8, 6, 4)
- The Realities of Homeschooling (8, 6, 4)
- Our General Homeschooling – a post about our general homeschool schedule/day. What things we cover aside from the units I so often post about. (Kids — ages 8, 6, 3 1/2)
- Starting Our New Routine – (8, almost 6, 3 1/2)
- Snippets of Our Week for our 7 Year Old
- Snippets of Our Week for our 2 1/2 Year Old
- Snippets of Our Week for our 5 Year Old
- Typical Day with tots and preschoolers (A Blog Entry From When the Kids Were 18 mo, 3 and 5)
homeschool life, homeschool schedule, How to homeschool, sample homeschool schedule 5th grade, sample homeschool schedule kindergarten, typical homeschool day, what is a typical homeschool day like? | Categories:
Homeschool Den, Homeschool Encouragement, Our Homeschool (what our day is like, curriculum choices, etc.), Planning and Preparation
Thursday, October 24th, 2013
This past week was really rough. Last Wednesday, I had some ear surgery that was to reconstruct my ear canal and the inner bones in my ear. The surgery was supposed to be relatively straight-forward, but wound up being much more challenging for the doctor (the surgery took a lot longer) and for me (I came out of the surgery very ill and in pain). There was more damage and decay in my middle ear area which required more drilling than anticipated. Plus, they had to lift and move my ear drum back in place to make more space (the red area in the photo-mine was plastered to the back area). The third bone (the stapes) was almost completely dissolved and gone, so a prosthesis was put in place but in an area where there wasn’t much left. I came out of the ear surgery very, very sick, vomiting and in pain. This week I’ve improved but only in very slow, small increments. (Earlier today, I felt a bit better — this evening I have a massive earache.)
We (the doctor/me) are not sure quite why I was so violently sick coming out of surgery. We’re sort of waiting to see if it was something major (perhaps the titanium bone punctured the membrane of my ear nerves (that purple area) and it could be leaking inner ear fluid?). That could be why I’ve experienced so much discomfort, dizziness, throbbing and pain. We’re on hold and waiting to see if I’ll need to go back in for more ear surgery. I am a bit better, though still have a lot of ear pain. It wasn’t supposed to be like this… but… I’ve had a history of very difficult surgeries with complications… so perhaps this is reasonably normal for me? That’s what we’re waiting to see. To be honest, I’m a little scared still having such a massive ear ache and discomfort. I’ll hopefully know more on Friday morning — and hopefully a second surgery won’t be necessary.
You know what I’ve learned this week? All those trivial worries don’t really matter in the big scheme of life…
- Boy, do I have an amazing support network of friends, family, and loving people beyond. How incredibly much that means.
- When you are in the hospital, you really, really need someone there to be your health advocate… to keep track of meds, to pass information along to nurses and those who don’t know what’s going on as they come on shift. My husband was amazing–and I really needed that support when I was heaving and sick.
- I’m really, really happy with my life. I mean, there aren’t a lot of times when you assess life in its totality and look at the finality of life, but when things were going wrong, it took me to a different place. I just had this deep underlying contentment that things are/were okay. Have you ever gone on a trip and when you return, you feel like you have a new perspective on life? It was like that. I looked at my life from a different lens. Not that I was ready to die or anything, but I had this general calm that it’s okay just to take things as they came and to let go of trivial worries…to sleep and rest and know that my loved ones and friends would take care of things for me.
- Yeah–so trivial worries…the night before my surgery I found out that someone had been stealing content from my blog for years…posting it on their own blog. Weird. I’m not sure why they would do that. I still have yet to file the copyright violations to get that taken care of…but in the scheme of life…goodness, it hardly matters.
But then in a way, I also learned that this week that often ONLY the trivial stuff matters:
- The door gently creaking open and creaking shut again to see if I was okay.
- The kids coming up to whisper what fun they had just had…
- ED patting me gently on the cheek and letting me sleep with her favorite stuffed animal.
- Hubby keeping track of all the meds, bringing me meals.
- Waking up to see love notes and hearts by my bedside.
- Meals, flowers, and magazines brought over that just shout, “we love you.”
- Talking to my sis and close friends.
- LD running to bring me some apple juice.
- The incredibly nice words of support… emails, comments… While I wasn’t up for looking at the computer, Hubby would tell me so and so wrote and sent well-wishes. It made me smile.
- All that little stuff matters a lot, doesn’t it? It’s the little stuff that makes your heart full and happy.
And the kids? Grams and Gramps came out from Missouri to stay with us. They’ve held down the fort — making meals, transporting the kids to activities, and even being “substitute” homeschool parents. They’ve had playdates with friends. The kids are even doing some basic schoolwork while I’m out of commission. They’ve done craft kits and crystal kits and all kinds of things “out of the norm.” I should refer back to that first point about having an amazing support network!
It’s been a big, huge week. I am so hugely grateful for my family, friends, and my life. What a incredible lesson for this homeschool mom!!
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Friday, October 11th, 2013
I love homeschooling — and I love writing about what we’re doing, but life is taking over for a little while. We have family coming from all over the US (and from Brazil) for my husband’s great uncle’s birthday party. He’s turning 90 and we are hosting several families (they started arriving earlier this week). Then tomorrow we will have 50 or 60 people over to our house. It’s been busy as we cleaned the house, washed sheets, went shopping and all that in preparation for having such a big party. I even cleaned off the books and mess from our dining room table and decorated for fall!
And, if you read my post a couple of weeks ago, you may know that I’m having some major ear surgery in a few days. They’ll be drilling in behind my ear to gain access to the bones behind my eardrum. One of those bones had corroded away when I was a child due to ear infections. They might, depending on what they see, replace one/more of those bones. Then they’ll use bone filler to fill in the area along my ear canal which was left recessed in (and still now causes ear infections). Anyway, I’ll be out for at least a week recovering and taking it easy.
My in-laws will be helping watch the kids. I’ll probably leave them with the bare minimum of work for school. They have been having a blast with all those online math games I posted about. ED has been playing lots of addition games like these:
Fairy Fun Addition:
Other Fun 4 the Brain Addition Games:
So, in the meantime, in preparation for my absence from the blog I’ve gone through lots of old posts. Starting this Sunday I have some old posts scheduled to come out each day. Perhaps there will be some things you missed from way back — all kinds of earth-space science posts, our fun human body activities and things like that.
We’ll see you on the other side after I’m fully recovered! Hope you’re having a lovely fall! ~Liesl
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Thursday, October 3rd, 2013
Sometimes we need an infusion of sunshine and happiness into our homeschool. There are times when the kids nitpick at each other, poke, needle and whine… we all (including me!) need to step back and ask ourselves if we are being as kind, thoughtful and caring as we can be!
One day for our writing workshop, we read the book, Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids. The message is just so lovely. We each have the power to make other people feel good, feel cared about and special by the actions (big or small) we take.
After we read the book, we each wrote up two lists: Fill a Bucket (ie. How to be kind and caring) and Empty a Bucket (How to make someone feel bad, hurt someone’s feelings, leave someone feeling dejected, sad, unloved or picked on)
Then we shared them with each other and added to our list! It was a really great lesson on treating each other well! I’ll share the lists we came up with… are there things we left out?!!
Fill a Bucket (ie. How to be kind and caring):
- give someone a hug
- smile at someone
- make friends with someone
- write a letter
- make a craft for someone
- give someone a present
- let someone go first
- leave a love note under someone’s pillow
- help someone who needs it
- clean up after yourself
- get enough sleep so I’m not sad or mad
- invite someone over for dinner
- be a good listener
- snuggle together
- say please and thank you
- be gracious
- be understanding
- be a friendly driver
- leave a good tip
- do jobs with a positive attitude
- be a good friend – take turns, share, do what someone else wants first
Empty a Bucket (How to make someone feel bad, hurt someone’s feelings, leave someone feeling dejected, sad, unloved or picked on):
- take or snatch things
- be an Indian giver
- push, snap
- get cross
- refuse to help
- say mean things
- hit or push someone
- butt in line
- cut someone off
- look angry
- slam around
- say, “I think you’re stupid or I think you have a baby-face.”
- break someone’s favorite toy
- put termites in someone’s house (Do termites have buckets? The termites would be happy? Maybe the buckets were made of wood…) And that–kind of brought our discussion to an end!!!
This activity really made an impact on all of us. We’re still talking about “filling someone’s bucket.”
Here’s a another activity we did last year that makes us mindful of the words we use:
The Wrinkled Heart Activity
We’ve now done The Wrinkled Heart Activity twice. I first found this wonderful idea at ProTeacher. I first did this with the kids a couple of years ago when we were studying the heart and circulatory system. It is an activity that shows how hurtful words and actions can linger; it reminds us to be kind and gentle with our words.
Before I read Chrysanthemum to the kids (since that’s the book I had on hand), I cut out a heart.
Then after we read the book we talked about the things the mice said that were hurtful (and I made folds in the heart for each suggestion the kids made) and things we’ve said to each other that have been hurtful (more folds for each suggestion) and things that they’ve heard others say that might be hurtful (more folds).
We then talked about things we say that are kind (unfold for each suggestion). We came up with as many kind things as we could until the heart was completely unfolded.
Then we talked about how the heart was still wrinkled and how the hurtful things we hear can linger for a while in our heart. We hung our wrinkled heart in the homeschool room as a reminder to be kind to one another.
Other books you could use with this activity (suggested by the teachers over at ProTeacher):
- Oliver Button is a Sissy by Tomie DePaola
- Willy the Wimp by Anthony Brown
- Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon
- Timothy Goes to School by Rosemary Wells
- Recess Queen by Alexis O’Neill
- How to Lose All Your Friends by Nancy Carlson
- Mr. Peabody’s Apples
- Sweet Briar Goes to School by Karma Wilson and LeUyen Pham
- Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae
My kids can always use a gentle reminder to speak kindly to one another!
You might also be interested in these posts:
When Kids Bicker, Argue… How to Address Sibling Fights
To Homeschool You Need…
20+ Thoughts for the Busy Homeschool Family
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