Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Painting, Nests, and Petey

A few pics of what we've been up to this week...

Watercolor Painting!



My floor was literally covered in "masterpieces!"


Thanks to a couple bird nests left in my parents' trees from last spring, we enjoyed a school lesson learning about why bird's make nests, what materials they use, and what the different types of nests look like.




This led to the great excuse for making "edible" nests...


jellybean eggs!
And yes, Petey was in the title of this post... he spends his days laying around... this picture reminds me of the scene in ET where he hides in the midst of the stuffed animals.  It's like a game of I Spy... who can find Petey??








Monday, March 19, 2012

Homeschool/Curriculum Update

We are in the midst of a homeschooling "spring break" right now... I find that giving myself some breaks from school helps keep my motivation going.  It allows me to spend time extra doing some other things I enjoy, or catching up on stuff around the house, and also gives me a chance to put some extra effort into planning activities for us to do in the school weeks ahead.  I don't really do much school planning when we we are in the midst of "doing school" - we just take a week off when I need time to plan :)  It works much better that way, otherwise I end up feeling burned out.  I took me awhile to get to the point where I don't stress out about taking time off of school, but I think it's just because I've worked in the public school system for so long that you tend to feel like you aren't doing it "right," if you don't follow their calendar.  Living here in the Phoenix area, I actually plan to do more of a year-round school model since it's so hot in the summer anyway!  That way, we can take 1-2 weeks off during different times of the year and have the flexibility for it.

One exciting piece of news on the homeschool front, is that my kiddos completely finished their Kindergarten math curriculum, and Eli has also finished the reading program (and is reading books like a champ!  Yeah!).  Mikayla has enjoyed a slower pace through the reading curriculum (I am so thankful I did it individually with each of them), and she will complete it in the near future.  Because of this, we are actually going to be jumping into our 1st grade curriculum following our "spring break."  I purchased the "My Father's World" 1st grade curriculum to use this next year, and I am very excited about it!  All content is taught through a Biblical worldview, through unit studies that have an international focus.  The 1st grade program uses a phonics based reading program that focuses on the Bible (the kids actually have their own little Bible readers they will be using during reading lessons), and language arts, social studies, science, and math are all integrated into each unit.  The picture to the left displays many of the program books and components that we will be enjoying this year.  I didn't actually purchase all of the supplemental books, as I plan to take advantage of the library whenever possible :)  FREE is always good!  I did purchase the pattern blocks to use with our math lessons, and my kids LOVE these.  They have been playing and making "designs" ever since they arrived in the mail.  Even if you don't homeschool, I would recommend buying a set of pattern blocks for any child ages 4-8 (maybe even older???)... trust me, it's hours of educational fun :)

So, I will keep you posted as to how things go with the new curriculum.  I am looking forward to the fact that more of the day-to-day planning is already laid out for me, as opposed to doing this entirely on my own which is what I have done up to now.  I wouldn't change what we did for Kindergarten, and I'm thankful for friends who told me not to waste my money on Kinder curriculum (though I don't judge you at all if you do spend money on it - you need to do what works for you if you are a homeschool parent).  Because of my love for teaching in general, I did find joy in planning and preparing lessons each week.  I really want to continue using the Five in a Row curriculum... and I have more blog posts to get up here from books we've finished!!  I am not exactly sure how to incorporate that with My Father's World, but I am going to try to find a way.  It will probably mean that we use the FIAR books, but don't do as many of the supplemental activities as we have been doing.  I guess we'll see how it goes.  I'll report back on this for other homeschool parents out there who might be interested... and if YOU are someone who uses these two programs together with your kids, please post a comment below and let me know how it works for you! :)

I have also been given the opportunity to review an online program called Time4Learning.  My kids will have the opportunity to use the program for the next 30 days, and then I'll report back on our experience.  Here is the official disclosure I am required to post: "Over the next 30 days, I will be reviewing Time4Learning's online education program. It can be used as a homeschool curriculum, an afterschool tutorial or forsummer learning. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. You can write your own curriculum review, too!"


I hope to get some new pics up here soon.  We have been enjoying spending a lot of time outside in the beautiful AZ spring weather... my kids literally played out in the backyard for SEVEN hours one day last week.  They ate their lunch out and everything.  I love those days!  They are looking forward to some of our upcoming science lessons which will involve nature: an ant farm (I am putting daddy in charge of the ants), butterfly garden, and bird's nests!  Stay tuned...