Tuesday, March 31, 2015

5 Stages of Writing~

We are moving through 5 stages in teaching the kids to get a story written in their journals.
So far the boys have made it the 4th stage so let me explain each one...

1. Tell me a story then I write the words for them to TRACE~

SO many skills came with this one step:
American name, letters, fine motor skill of copying, learning to draw something, having the control to stay focused, and vocabulary development.

2. Trace and write under name and words for a story~
Again a big step in diligence and perseverance and one that lasted over a year.

3. Tracing and Copying on Magic Lines~
Once the boys have their picture drawn I ask them to tell me the story.
As they speak I write the words and draw Magic Lines on the page to teach them one line for one word spoken.
They go back and copy each word learning good handwriting, capitals, and punctuation~
{I also tell all my kids when drawing and adding color to anything requires
the same number of colors as their age. aka: Payne is 6 so he must use 6 colors}
Amazing how that makes them more aware of details in the picture!

4. Speaking what they want to write, me drawing magic lines, and them sounded out the words with invented spelling~
I have an ABC chart up to use as a sound board {Giving them a picture for a sound they are sounding out}~
 I am so proud of them moving to this step and as you can see, they are as well!

5. The last stage of course is writing their own words independently and I have no doubt they will make it there. 

They have two pretty awesome role models to follow~

EK always writes non fiction and SJ loves writing true stories or cute tales~
{Both take after their bigs with that awesome drawing!}

And NOT to leave the Bitty girls out... they are hovering between stage one and two~

I read an awesome quote today:
"Instead of holding each student up to the same blanket standards, ask "Is this child making progress?" 

I can definitely see all 6 making huge strides on their own educational path
and for that I am super thankful!!!

Monday, March 30, 2015

FIAR: The Dutchess Bakes a Cake~

The kids continue to learn how we are Royalty in God's family at church
and we loved watching our videos from Sunday today at home~
We are using the theme of Royalty this week with our FIAR book,
 We were SO blessed by the best neighbor ever, Ms. Judy, with Easter surprises and cupCAKES!.
After reading this sweet adorable book, we enjoyed a yummy snack of cupcakes and tea.
The little kids focused on locating United Kingdom across the Atlantic while
EK and SJ made a Story Map little book~
Our first day of this super cute story was awesome!!!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Reading Eggs and Mathseeds~

ALL the kids are doing Reading Eggs and with a renewal right now,
you get a year of Mathseeds as well~
I am teaching the bitty girls so many new skills from mastering the Macbook finger pad
to the new apple mouse we just ordered as well as reading/math skills.
Evie really loves this new experience and is doing awesome!!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

3 Whys for Whimsical Wednesday~

I have a sweet homeschool BFF that I talk to every single day
and we have never met in person.

How can that be?

We have lots in common like adoption, big families, amazing husbands, believers, homeschooling moms...

We LOVE talking adoption and homeschooling.

If we need encouragement, we talk.
If we need to vent, we vent.
If we need prayer, we stop what we're doing right then and pray over each other.
If we need advice, we share experiences.

Yesterday we both found ourselves feeling a little down in the homeschooling arena
and maybe a little short with our sweet children.

Right as we were talking through some hard things in our lives, 
I happen to read this thought by Lisa TerKeurst~
"When to give grace? I'd rather stand before God knowing I loved others too much 
than regretting that I judged too harshly."

I was immediately convicted of more orders and corrections than gentle words and hugs... 
sometimes life just becomes a big management game instead of growing hearts.
{Yes, the name of my blog!}

Today I woke up and spent my quiet time praying God would just give me second by second
what I needed for my day and what my children needed for their day too.
HE gave me the word Whimsical...

1. Why Whimsical Wednesday? because God lead me to it~

After reading a few books together, I asked the kids if they had ever heard this word.
EK had on a show. :)
We looked it up with Siri and she said, "Determined by chance or impulse or whim 
rather than by necessity or reason."
On a whim, I asked the kids what they wanted to READ and they picked these three~

2. Why Whimsical Wednesday? because my children need to experience a whim~
We decided for our day we would each Read, Write, and do Math.
As they chose their books to read in their chosen reading spot,
I went to each one and asked what I could read to JUST them... THRILLED!

The bitties chose bunny books, EK science, and the rest follows~
 Beautiful stories flowed out of them into their journals too and math was a breeze!

I just have to share a WONDERFUL podcast I have learned so much from...
Read Aloud Revival... it's NOT just for homeschooling families!
Go check it out!!!

3. Why Whimsical Wednesday? because I needed it just as much as they did~
{Sorry there are only photos of the girls... the boys were always where I was not:}
Everyone loved being on a whim freely choosing what their heart desired
and I was able to read myself a book I have been aching to read: Simplicity Parenting~

A few "Whimsical" I quotes read~

~"By simplifying, we protect the environment for childhood's slow, essential unfolding of self."

~"Our society- with its pressures of "too much"- is waging an undeclared war of childhood."

~"The pace of our daily lives is increasingly misaligned with the pace of childhood."

~"A protected childhood allows for the slow development of identity, well-being, and resiliency."

~"Like any work of art, families need inspiration, fresh infusions of hope, and imagination."

~"Our daily lives can become disconnected from the hopes and dreams we hold for our family."

~"Simplification signals a change, a realignment of our hopes and our everyday lives."

~"Too much stuff lead to too little time and too little depth in the way kids see and explore their worlds."

~"Stress can push children along the behavioral spectrum. When you simplify a child's life on a number of levels, back they come."

OKAY... I could go on and on but I think you get the picture... 
or let me give you a picture~
Last evening I sat on the breezeway listening to the shrieks of laughter and joy
coming from our children playing in the backyard as the sun set.

There is NO greater gift we can give our children than a beautiful childhood
and time just playing outside.

Anyone care to share a Whimsical thought...

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Bird Box~

EK and I put together all the necessary items needed for superb bird watching~
 A tackle box with art supplies, Bird Logs, and Bird guides~
Today they watched for birds right outside our windows~
 And recorded observations in their logs~

There is something of the Marvelous in all things of Nature.
~ Aristotle

Monday, March 23, 2015

Fritz and the Beautiful Horses~

With the new series @ Kidspring Crowned, we decided to go with it here as well
pulling one of favorite books Fritz and the Beautiful Horses.
He lives in a kingdom with a walled city~
We watched all our videos~
 Read and highlighted scripture in our Bibles~
 And wrote stories in our journals~

1 Peter 2:9
You are God's chosen and special people.

Matthew 5:3
Great blessings belong to those who know they are spiritually in need.
God's kingdom belongs to them.

Friday, March 20, 2015

First Day of Spring~ {Fun Friday}

Season changes are one of the best things about living in Georgia.
Today was the day and we began with a wonderful book about Spring~
 So cool that there was an origami frog at the end
and we had just found this kit @ Target so we made frogs.

Next we read only the page about Spring in The Reasons for Seasons... kind of hard to understand~
 Between the books we listed all the things we new about Spring
and because we were still on the Japan theme, I wanted to introduce Haiku!
We wrote one about Spring together (see above) and then I sent EK/SJ off to write their own~
 I thought they were pretty awesome~
While they were writing poetry, the other kiddos used the math manipulatives
we had lying around to create rainbows~
 Amelia and the girls ran to the store for Skittles and we graphed the Rainbow with them~
A VERY Fun First Day of Spring Friday!!!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

BFIAR & FIAR~ {The Yellow Ball & Grandfather's Journey}

This week I rowed Yellow Ball by Molly Bang with the bitty girls.
 They liked the book and quickly learned the pattern of the words
 {learning new vocab}.
I gave them yellow construction paper and some circle punchers and let them punch away 
{Fine motor work}
We also drew a page from the story and talked about spheres~

 For FIAR we rowed Grandfather's Journey and sad to say it is not one of favorites.
I chose it because it continued our study of Japan but it just didn't hold our attention~
 We learned about generations and notebooked the generations they are a part of~
 EK and SJ have been working so hard on their cursive and I am wanting them to use it more in their everyday writing.
I think they did pretty well with their copywork!
We think it is super cool that Ben Curtis is a fourth generation baby!
Thankful for Memommy and Pop giving us a beautiful heritage!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The 3 C's of Geography~

Happy St. Patrick's Day~

We took a little different angle with this holiday this year with Geography as our springboard...

I began our day reading Gail Gibbon's book St. Patrick's Day~

1. Conduct Research~
The first C of Geography is gathering all your research materials to Conduct Research learning as much as you can concerning a place (Ireland).

EK checked this Great NEW YouTube Kids App for related videos
and ALL were on board~
(Thanks Amy!)
With everything gathered in one place, we searched for information about Ireland. 
It was so wonderful when my plans turned to their plans.

EK and SJ picked up the books and used indexes/tables of contents to find Ireland.
They took the younger ones to maps/globes to locate
and made up a game of spin the kids around three times then locate.
It is helpful to have the child find where they are and then locate new place
giving them a frame of reference.
We learned about natural resources, animals, landforms, people, and more about St. Patrick.
{Lots of New Information was Learned}

2. Connect to the Child~
The second C of Geography is making a Connection between the place and the Child.

In the course of our research we learned Ireland is known as the Emerald Isle
and we began to explore why they might be.
Ireland is a very lush and green place with grass and clover.
We also read that St. Patrick used a clover to explain the Trinity to the Irish.

EK spoke up to tell everyone we had tons of clover in our yard. {Connection}
We went out to find the patches then chose some for our journals~
Such a beautiful day in Georgia!
Reminds me of the beautiful green Isle of Ireland!
We taped the clover in our journals and painted a 3 leaf clover reciting Who God is...
God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
EK remembered this being said when she was baptized. {Another Connection}
{Each child was able to make Connections to themselves}

3. Contrast/Compare~
The third C is Contrasting and Comparing the new place to where the child lives.

The last part of our morning allowed the kids to compare/contrast.
Clover grows in both places.
Our flags are different in several ways.
We listened to both anthems and chose our favorite.
We traced the travel path from our home to Ireland.
We drew the flag and glued a map of Ireland in our journals.
We talked about which continent we are on compared to Ireland.
Just SO many ways to chase this skill and so little time. :)
{New terminology like Compare and Contrast being used}

As we wrapped up our short study, 
I did a little secretive assessment of what was learned~
1. Holly home for 9 months was able to point out Ireland on the world map.
2. Facts learned recorded in journals.
3. The boys were introduced to the index and LOVE that it is alphabetical.
4. Maps give us great clues about a place.
5. Reviewed the Compass Rose.
6. Evie found our tiny Target globe and located Ireland by herself.

There you have The 3 Cs of Geography 'mapped' out for you.

Hoping we might enjoy this Beautiful Feet study maybe in the fall~

Friday, March 13, 2015

5 Habits to Foster Learning to Read~

So far we have 2 out of the 6 kids at home reading on their own and when I say that I mean able to read to themselves whenever they want for enjoyment.

I believe there are 5 habits that foster learning to read and we are still very much in the LEARNING phase for most of them.

1. Reading as much as possible to all, couples, and individuals:
I would call my homeschooling style to be eclectic in that I pick and choose from various sources for our curriculum choices as well as implementing my own ideas. 

All that to say I believe READING to the kids as much as possible is so important. We read the Bible, BFIAR book, FIAR book, chapter book, Living book with history, nature books, animal books, as well as any favorite book they might pick up from a stack around the house. 

Having books spread around the house in baskets, on shelves, and in rooms is key in loving books/reading. I also read little emergent readers with them as well. 

2. Listening to books on tape/CD/audio: 
I have a pretty big stash of books on audio from my teaching days and they are used often. Again the key is to have them out in a basket so they seen. I have also found listening to the audio version of a chapter book via Audible after we read each day really helps the kids comprehend the text better. 

Don't forget about borrowing audio books from the library as well. Such a great habit to enjoy especially in the car or on walks. We even love this when lying out under a tree on a big blanket.

3. Playing Reading Games on the Computer or IPad:
The best hands down program we use is Reading Eggs. It requires a fee for each child using it but our children love it and are very motivated to move through the levels. It quizzes their knowledge every so often sending me an email with their progress. 

As seen in the photo at top of post, many of them can be found standing around watching another play. They are learning even in that moment as well.

If you search for me on Pinterest, you can find a ton of IPad games we love as well under my Technology tab.

4. Watching Letter Factory:
Every single one of the kids have loved The Letter Factory as well as the many videos made by Leap Frog. The videos are sequential and skills build on themselves as videos are watched. I bought my videos in a set HERE

5. Explode the Code~
I have talked often about this great resource. All 6 kids are working through the books at their level. I buy the books once, put pages in sheet protectors, and use dry erase markers to complete. Saving trees and money!

Would love to hear about your favorite resources!!! 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Pair of Red Clogs~ {FIAR}

We have been rowing A Pair of Red Clogs for the past two weeks and it has been hard to keep everything to one post. It has been a fun row and would really like to keep going. :)

The best part of this row was constantly comparing Japan to China to America. Any time we begin a new book in another part of the world, we go to the globe. We played spin the globe and everyone took a turn finding Japan. Then we went to the wall map to trace a trip to Japan. It was fun to discuss travel with the little kids~

One of our favorite parts of the story was a weather telling game played with clogs. We played with our slippers, recorded our data, and discussed our results~

When I was a little girl, my grandparents visited Japan and brought back all kinds of treasures. One of the most beautiful was this Japanese kimono~
 The girls loved trying it on and SJ taught Evie how to tie the obi~
 Good job Evie!!! Love all the smiles~

I had the boys pull out all the long blocks and I added ribbon to them so we could pretend wearing wooden clogs~
 I was surprised how well them were able to walk in them so we found a traditional dance video and we tried dancing in them~
 The boys pretended they were playing big Japanese Taiko drums~

I had a few Japan books so we read them on alternate days. We read Yoko's Paper Cranes and painted our own beautiful origami paper~
 We did our painting right after breakfast so it could be drying while we read the story. We also brewed some tea since the grandmother in the story drank tea~
 Tea and stories go so well together. We watched a tutorial for folding our own paper cranes and it was way harder than it looked. I pretty much folded 6 of them~ :)
 Everyone was proud of their diligence once they were hung in the sunroom~

Another alternate book was I Live in Tokyo. The carp kites caught our eye and we had to make them. I pulled a fish pattern and we traced onto thick white paper. We cut out two and painted both outside in the warm weather~
 SO happy to be back outside schooling. All the fish needed drying time so~
 We splurged on happy meals and had a picnic~
 We stuffed our fish and stapled a ribbon then it was time to try them out~

 Can't imagine a more wonderful childhood~
Running around in the front yard free as the wind!!!