Category Archives: Learning

Christmas Concert

This year the children participated in their first-ever Christmas concert. The boys played recorder

and played handbells, Brooke sang with the choir and also played handbells.

They all performed the PattyCake Polka, sweet things!

Their music teacher was wonderful! We all are excited for next semester.

Brea loved being in the audience, especially since she got to sit with her beloved Grammy,

and even got her photo taken with her favorite “star.”

Urging Them Toward Independence

I like a relaxed school. If we want to start at 8, we start at 8. If we want to wait til 1, we wait til 1. We’re always learning, so I’m not too worried about their brains turning to mush.

However, when my husband’s aunt moved in with us last spring, I thought the way to maintain order in our home would be to put us on a strict schedule. Let’s just say it’s sucked all the joy out of schooling for us, being stuck at a table for certain hours, completely tired of looking at the same things, too tired to pursue investigative learning by the time lunch rolls around.

So I’m trying a new tactic. I’m giving my children “What to Expect” sheets to guide them throughout the week. It doesn’t cover every aspect of our education or our family life, but it’s a checklist they can work down in (mostly) their own timing. Some things we’ll still do at certain times of the day–for instance, our days go infinitely better when we seek God together first thing. But other things they’ll have a little freedom with. I imagine it might be difficult, having been trained recently to respond only to my commands. I want them to get back to listening to their natural internal avid learners.

Here’s a bare bones sample of what I’m putting together. It will change, I know that. But I’m excited to see what comes of it.

Learning IS Fun!

We use workbooks for language arts, writing, reading, spelling, and math. I’m not a workbook kind of girl, but they cover clearly and concisely what my children need to learn in these subjects. And let’s face it, how exciting is it really to teach prepositional phrases? But every once in a while get stuck in a workbook rut.

We were stuck in one of these said ruts so we packed up and headed to the zoo. Each child chose an animal to observe and study in anticipation of learning more about it in the coming week.

Brooke chose the zebra.

(Love those slippers!)

Brad chose the leopard.

(Love his use of color in his acrylic.)

Brian chose the elephant.

(I guess you could call that a self portrait.)

Breanna chose the chimpanzee.

Cute as those chimps can be, they don’t come close to the cuteness of this little one who changed into her dance recital costume to make her presentation sparkle.

I don’t mind ruts if this is what they inspire.

Girl Schooling

When the boys are away…

the girls will play…

all sorts of girl games.

Little do they know they’re learning at the same time.

Do you see Ma sewing sewing by the fire? Do you see Laura and Mary and Carrie all tucked into their beds, listening quietly to Pa playing the fiddle? And can you find their good old bulldog Jack?

If you have young (or even not so young) girls, you’ll definitely want to check out the Little House Picture Books. I bought the complete set before my oldest daughter could even read, and I will save them to read to my grandchildren.

Oh, and by the way, the notions they used today were from their great great aunt Bun, my grandfather’s sister. So we even added in a little personal history!

Today we studied the big yellow ball in the sky. Then we watched Louie Giglio’s “Indescribable” account of the heavens.

We were inspired to create this masterpiece!

God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.” –Genesis 1:16-19

Could It Be?

Today I followed a whim and began our day (after Bible) with KONOS instead of with reading and math. Wow! I could almost feel the children’s spirits rising. We spent the better part of the morning learning all about shadows and reflections, reading poetry about the sun by Walt Whitman and Robert Louis Stevenson, and devising our own experiments with avacado shadows. Instead of trudging through our “work,” we enjoyed “learning.” Finally. Again.

I don’t write about it much, but our household has been in major transition for the past six months. My husband’s elderly aunt moved in with us and it’s taking a while to adjust. One of the side-effects has been a not-so-carefree mommy and home school mom. But something in today’s schooling reminded me of who I was created to be, of the wonderful plans God has for me within our family.

Because our desktop is in the shop (and I’m stealing a few minutes on my husband’s laptop), I don’t have photos to share. But if I did, you’d see plenty of smiles and twinkles in eyes!

Thank You, God, for showing me the joy you have made full in us. Thank You for giving us the freedom to school at home, together, in love.

It Was Just Too Clean!

The White House, that is. Recently we toured the rooms shown here. Because we weren’t permitted to take in cameras (or strollers or purses, for that matter), I couldn’t snap any photos. It was really very pretty, but too clean in my opinion. Sanitized, really. Don’t you think a few fingerprints from heads of state over the decades would add a little character? Maybe a few coins rummaged out of couch cushions. Something that tells the story of the famous, powerful world leaders and heroes who have graced the house.

After our tour, my hubby headed to the office and I took the children

to the Washington Monument for a tour.

WOW! It was awesome to ride up to the tippy top of this structure and peek out.

This is what we saw from one of the windows.

(See the Lincoln Memorial at top, the reflecting pool, and the circular WW2 Memorial in the foreground.

We even got a peek at the White House from way up there.

(Look just above the ellipsis. It looks like a street of trees coming out of the top of it. How’s that for elemental map-interpreting skills?)

As much of an honor it was to see the inside of the White House, we really had much more fun at the monument,

the carousel,

the Museum of Natural History’s Butterfly Room,

the sculpture garden fountains,

and the Air and Space Museum’s hands-on workshop. (That’s Brad in the space suit.)

We can hardly wait for our next trip to Washington, DC. We’re so grateful to live so near to this wonderful city.

The New Old Rules

Today we planned to “kick off” our school year (though we schooled at half-workload all summer). I had goodies to surprise them and was even going to make a bowl of punch to celebrate. Things did not go as planned, to put it mildly. Seems some of the “whineys” and “talk-backeys” made their way into our school room. Then the “noseys” and “bosseys” made it through the crack in the door. Then I, “hard core forever home school mom,” literally veered our van from its course to the movie theater (a pre-planned field trip they surely didn’t deserve) and pulled into the lot of the local public elementary school, asking (quite loudly, I might add): “Who’d like to meet their new teacher first?!” And…I was serious.

I’m wondering if I should have taken a break this summer so that our fall seemed new and exciting. Then again, last year I vowed I’d never take a complete summer off again because it was chaos. Maybe I should have had some kind of meeting prior to school to lay out expectations. But seriously, what changed this morning? I had no new expectations–just ones I’d been drilling into them since birth. Things like, don’t ask me to get you a cereal bowl if you can open the dishwasher with your perfectly healthy hand; don’t doodle in your math book while we’re doing Bible class; don’t steal your sister”s really cool pencil while she’s not looking. I’m sure you can imagine more.

So was it a terrible day? I don’t know. I missed seeing all my friends at Toy Story 3. I finally acquiesced that public school isn’t the devil’s handiwork. I spent an hour writing out things I shouldn’t have had to write down.

On the other hand…

My children whipped themselves into shape quidkly and are really excited to start our new KONOS unit next week.

We outlined all types of expectations and are all on the same page.

We enjoyed a quiet dinner out together.

Now they’re all safe and sound in bed and tomorrow wll be a new day.

It wasn’t what I’d hoped for, but we accomplished a lot for our family. It didn’t go the way I’d planned, but we ended up sowing and reaping rewards normalcy would never bring.

So, thank You, Lord, for this crazy day. Thank You that You were in the midst of all that happened, even when it seemed You were far away. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for speaking to us in the midst of our carnality. Bless You, Jesus, who reminded us that in this world we’ll have tribulation, but You have overcome the world. And all the nuisances that become burrs in our sandals as we walk through life.