Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hands-on Learning!

This year my main focus for our home school has been to bring a hands- on approach to our learning. For one thing, it's just more fun for the kids. It also helps them to remember the concepts that they've learned. A couple of the subjects we've been able to bring this change to so far is spelling and math.

The program that we're using for spelling right now is Spelling Power. It's a great program, written by a homeschool mom. It contains all the most commonly used and misspelled words. I love the short lessons and the hands-on approach. After practicing a word by studying it, spelling it with her eyes closed, etc., she spells it in a textured surface.

We use a cookie sheet of cornmeal right now for a textured surface. Evie then makes up her own sentence with the word and then beads it on a necklace.

For math, we're using Math U See. I could be a sales person for this program. I LOVE it! It has made a world of difference in the way I teach math. It comes with DVD's that show you how to teach each lesson. Prior to using this program, I had a hard time simply explaining concepts to Evie. It resulted in her not understanding it and frustration all around.
After watching the lesson, you then work on that concept until the child masters it. They use blocks to teach everything which helps the kids to really understand what they're doing when they're doing paperwork later (which is so abstract). It's so different from the way I was taught! Apparently, most schools are seeing the benefit of manipulatives and are using them a lot now.

Here's Elijah with the Math U See blocks. He built 1-20.

Every day, I have the kids do a math speed drill from the Math U See site. If they don't get any wrong, a ribbon flashes with a banner that says that they got them all right. This ribbon really motivates them to work carefully. Evie has been getting it often and Elijah is still trying to get his first ribbon. His main trouble is hitting things wrong on the keyboard, otherwise he'd be getting ribbons too:)

It's funny, when I started homeschooling over two years ago, I really had NO IDEA how many curriculum options and homeschooling styles were out there. It wasn't until this winter that I started exploring all the options. This article really summed up all the styles for me. The Simply Charlotte Mason website is what made me get excited about the Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling. I love the idea of learning through living books. The description for living books from the SCM website says:

"Probably the most well known of Charlotte’s methods is her use of living books instead of dry, factual textbooks. Living books are usually written by one person who has a passion for the subject and writes in conversational or narrative style. The books pull you into the subject and involve your emotions, so it’s easy to remember the events and facts. Living books make the subject 'come alive'.”

I've been building a living book library at home now! I've found lots of great finds at thrift stores and raided my mom's library too:) Now I need to buy some more book shelves!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Owl Eden Puke

Owl puke by day, EDEN puke by night... every 20 minutes .all. night. long.

Here she is doing her ever-so-fake pout. It's the best pout she has and it makes me giggle every time she shows it to me. I love my little girl!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Owl Puke

In our new Prairie Primer, we were instructed to write a report on owls and to dissect an owl pellet. I was going to take the kids to the farm to find a pellet until I read that they're full of bacteria. Apparently we're supposed to purchase one that has been sterilized. Since it's not that easy to find, we made our own owl pellets today using a recipe from our Owl Puke book. The book was another great thrift shop find!

The main ingredients were Rice Krispies and chocolate. We had to use white chocolate chunks to be the animal bones. The kids loved it!

Here's the little title page the kids made for their reports. Evie helped Eden make hers. What a nice big sister:)

A Sleddin' we will go...

or maybe not!
We were so excited to FINALLY get a decent snow fall... something we've been waiting for all winter. You'd think that moving into a snow belt, we'd have snow! February is almost over and we finally ventured out on our first tobogganing trip.
The outing started out as usual. We bundled Eden up and she undressed herself before we got there. Typical. I remember each of the kids doing this at the same age. It's annoying when you're running lots of errands and you have to dig for socks and shoes every time you stop the car!

The snow hill is affectionately called Mt. Trashmore since it was the dump site until the city decided to turn it into a snow hill and bike park. You can see Ronny pulling the other kids up the hill in the distance.

We should have waited until the snow stopped blowing because the kids were crying right away. It hurt when the snow hit their little faces. We made it up the hill and decided to not even ride down as it would hurt the kids faces too much. Suddenly Elijah disappeared on us while we were talking at the top of the hill. He apparently nudged himself on the GT until he started racing down the hill (backwards). He's always been a little daredevil on the snow hills.

Ronny chased after him, thinking he hadn't done it on purpose (and worried that Elijah would be terrified). I walked back down the hill with the girls and headed toward the van. Thus ended our first tobogganing adventure of the year!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Oh when...

will my hair grow???

Poor Miss Eden still has very little hair! My sister Beth says that this is due to my teasing of her little hairless girl a couple of years ago. Oh well. Brushing her hair is one less thing that I have to do on Sunday mornings, since she doesn't have any!

At the beginning of the week, I felt a strange virus coming on. My mom urged me to go to EMERG since I had pain in my chest. To make a long story short, I had some pneumonia just as my mom predicted. Mom's know best!

Funny thing happened when I got the prescription. I was asking the Dr. if the antibiotic was safe for breastfeeding. He asked how old the baby. I said she was two. He said, "No, how old is the one that you're breastfeeding?". Um... that IS the one I'm breastfeeding! He just responded that I was brave. Doctors. You'd think he'd commend someone for breastfeeding, oh well.

I was thinking about what a blessing it is to have such supportive family. Not just relatives (such as my mom and siblings who all called and offered their help, and a mother in law who moved in to help for a few days) but a church family too! My dear friend babysat and cleaned my terribly messy house while another friend sat in EMERG until 2 am. The Pastor called and so did an elder, offering their help and support. I was overwhelmed with so much kindness!
Glad to say I'm feeling lots better!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Daddy Love!

The kids have made these cute mailboxes for daddy and taped them to the wall. When he comes home from work, the first thing he does is check his 'mailboxes'. The kids giggle and jump around as he gathers up all his mail (there's usually quite a stash). I love how Evie wrote 'daddy' in cursive.

Then daddy sits on the couch and admires every single piece as they snuggle all around him.

Ronny figures that we should change Eden's name to "Eben" since Evie can never spell it right:)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Nature Walk

We discovered an awesome nature area within walking distance of our house! There are bridges over the wetlands and tons of trails. It is so perfect for our weekly nature walk- where we do our nature study. Now we just need to buy the Handbook of Nature Study.

We found several trees that were chewed by beavers. Some were ready to topple over!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Happy Birthday Sweet Boy!

Our sweet Elijah turned FIVE yesterday!!
The evening before his birthday, I made sure to kiss him over and over, telling him that I wanted to remember kissing my four year old boy for the last time. I have to admit, I cried. He asked me to snuggle him in his bed until he fell asleep. Eden has been possessive of me lately and would not allow me to snuggle him! Evie came to the rescue, she's such an angel. She read to Eden while I snuggled my little boy. It took all of two minutes for him to fall asleep. Have I mentioned that he snores? He loves his sleep.
The next morning he ran to our room to snuggle again, like he does every morning. He had a sweet, shy smile on his face as we said happy birthday to him. We then bundled up and visited Carlos and Nicole, went ice skating and had a combined party for him and Macy.

He got a DS for his birthday, he's so excited! Between his two parties, he got McQueen cars, a cool shirt, a puzzle, lego and a maze book... his relatives know him well!

Then this morning, Ronny took Evie to church. Elijah stayed home with me and Eden. Eden is not supposed to go into the nursery at church if she has a runny nose. So far, she's made it into the nursery TWICE in the last ten weeks. I don't mind staying home, I can listen to my brother preach here
and of course, Francis Chan preach here.
I do miss worship time at church though. The kids and I are starting to have our own little worship times at home though. As much as I love contemporary songs, I love hymns too. Since we're following the Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling, we are officially having a "Hymn Study" class. So our first hymn that we're learning is Great is Thy Faithfulness. Such a powerful song. And my sweet little Evie had tears well up in her eyes when we were discussing the first verse, about how God's love never fails and how He never changes. It was the first time I saw her cry about our wonderful God. And my sweet Elijah is constantly singing Great is Thy faithfulness now. It took him a bit to learn to say, "THY faithfulness" instead of "MY faithfulness". So cute.