Thursday, February 25, 2016

Art Story Routine: Notebooking

I wrote a blog post HERE   about Jodi Mockabee's HS HERE and I really loved the painting portion of it. We began our free draw/painting/writing routine two weeks ago, and the kids have loved it!

We are calling them Art Stories!

We have gathered around our table to learn, talk, read, and create~
It it Around the Table that we Understand BEST the Warmth of being Together!
The kitchen is the heart of the home and we are thinking it is also the heart of our homeschooling too. Being able to see each other bonds us as family and encourages community too!

I am amazed at the beauty they are creating to be treasured always~
They have each painted 9 paintings now with beautiful words written on each one and they LOVE looking at them all!

As we have painted, written, and laminated their creations, the biggest question was where were we going to put them? Jodi files her kids' work in separate binders but I really didn't want 6 binders to store. SJ suggested we put them all in a family binder~ Brilliant!!!

It is just as loved as their Life Books and our blog books!
Setting up for the day and sitting the laminator out, sure builds the excitement~

This week we read the Mr. Gumpy books and today after reading the Motor Car one, we watched a few videos as well as how to draw a police car~
They followed the tutorial and came out with beautiful masterpieces~

I can see growth over the last two weeks especially in the youngest four~
The benefits I am seeing from this practice~

  • Free write is encouraged OR a narration from our story.
  • They have something set to do each day while I read.
  • Spelling, grammar, and handwriting are all being practiced.
  • Creative outlet with drawing and painting with everyone around the table.
  • There is excitement in planning what they will create.
  • Laminating is a great way to publish and add to a book.
  • No planning involved for me; just setup!


Try it! I think you will like it!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

My Nature Loving Children~ {Nature Walk Wednesday}

We gathered around our table for Bible and prayer before heading out into nature for inspiration to draw and paint~

Everyone pulled on their rain boots and instead of me leading this nature adventure, they lead me! Back into the woods we went~
 They shared their hideout where they play Boxcar Children collecting trash treasures~
 They crossed logs and stood at the foot of the base of a tree that fell over in the wind~
 They scampered down a deep embankment into the creek~
 AND the scariest part for me was watching SJ walk across a fallen log covered in ferns {over the creek} to the other side AND back~
 She was quite proud and I was quite relieved!
They swung from vines and pointed out the back of our house~
 They showed me all the collections and  beauty in our backyard~
 We ended up at our big outside table to listen to a cute story Mr. Gummy's Outing~
While sketching and painting about our own.
We are SO thankful the weather is giving us beautiful springlike days outside!!!

"We are all meant to be naturalists, each in his own degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things."    ~ Charlotte Mason

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Office Grand Opening~ {Spelling You See & Brave Writer}

For spelling this year, we chose Spelling You See using three of the levels~
It has been fantastic! There has been huge growth in all four of our kids using it. There are two activities that kind of bores EK when she comes to them so this week, we found a solution. Actually she thought of it, and I just said yes.

We opened an office with old computers, and our spelling became super fun when the girls came to the TWO boring activities...

The way the curriculum works is EK has a passage every week she copies parts of each day. There are also word chunks she must code in the printed passage then in her own. About the 4th lesson, she must write a short passage of her own but this is often overkill because she is writing everyday anyway.

The 5th lesson I dictate the passage to her, and she writes IN CURSIVE (yay, getting handwriting in too) the whole passage being mindful of her spelling. THIS was getting stressful and boring SO...

I pulled out my old Dell and Macbook (SLOW as a snail), and we opened a Kid Home Office. NOW when they girls come to the oh so boring pages~
They aren't so boring anymore. They are learning to type with correct finger formation and loving every minute of it~
When they typing is complete, we print it out and glue into the spelling book.

The BEST news is the Home Office has appealed to ALL the kids and they are found to be typing (WRITING) all the time. I hear them say, "I'm writing a blog like mom. I'm working for Cisco like dad. I'm making a list for the grocery store." They don't realize THIS is REAL writing, and they think it is FUN~


We also use Brave Writer for our Writing curriculum, and have introduced a few projects to the girls. One was a secret code project where EK had to create coded message and have someone decipher it. It was fun for a couple of days and she lost interest. Yesterday I saw her in the Office and asked, "What are you doing EK?" She answered, "Making a secret code for SJ." 

Confirmation that the right time AND the right medium is what makes learning fun, meaningful, and healthy for children. 

Maybe a Home Office is just what you need for a Learning Boost!!!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Reading Success~

We have two avid readers in our house so far, and the smaller ones are not far behind.
We took a break from the library mainly because our new dog chewed 4 of our books unbeknownst to us, and when they went through the check in process we were charged $60. WHAT???
 Now instead of checking out more books than we can keep up with, we have pawned it down to 1 per child and 1 listening set as well.
Much more doable and easier to store on our shelf~
With 6 children needing one on one time with reading, I need all the help I can get.

Ways to Increase Reading Success (even when you can't sit with them):


1. Library Books~

 Allow your child to choose ANY book he/she likes, and they are way more likely to pick it up and 'read'. Imagine Payne's surprise when he picked up his book this week, The Carrot Seed, and I casually mentioned he could probably read most of the words inside, then read most every word on his own to which he exclaimed, "I can read REAL books!" And that spurred Will to find it too, and he read it~


2. Limit Television~

My kids have very limited television time. It is not something we use to kill time. My favorite request is 'find something to do', and they are very good at it! The photos above were taken after school or through the afternoon when they choose reading as they're 'something' to do.


3. Reading (Listening) in Many Different Ways~

You can see above we have DVD players, CD players, and tape players they can use for listening to stories. Remember me saying if they can work an iPhone, they can work household appliances? Same goes for the players I listed. We have lots of books on tape from when I taught school, and we love Audible and Librivox. Having the choices in baskets out where they can see is important too!


4. Allow Books anytime especially at Rest Time and Bedtime~

We have three book shelves full of books under their desks and one in each of the bedrooms. It is always okay to pick a stack of books for rest time, AND never a complaint for bedtime if they are allowed to take a stack to read while they wait for their tuck in. Works like a charm!!!!!

5. Read in Front of Them~

Scott and I make it a habit to read aloud to them after baths each night as well as being seen reading around them. I really prefer real books but if I do read digitally, I read on a Kindle and not iPad... just sets a better example as real reading and not surfing the web. :)

BONUS:
We are finding since the kids have begun memorizing scripture for Awana, they are realizing the wonder of reading. It is finally clicking that every word spoken can be written and therefore read. This has especially been true for the boys, and we couldn't be happier for them!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Reading Success~ {Listening Style}

We have two avid readers in our house so far, and the smaller ones are not far behind.
We took a break from the library mainly because our new dog chewed 4 of our books unbeknownst to us, and when they went through the check in process we were charged $60. WHAT???
 Now instead of checking out more books than we can keep up with, we have pawned it down to 1 per child and 1 listening set as well.
Much more doable and easier to store on our shelf~
With 6 children needing one on one time with reading, I need all the help I can get.

Ways to Increase Reading Success (even when you can't sit with them):


1. Library Books~

 Allow your child to choose ANY book he/she likes, and they are way more likely to pick it up and 'read'. Imagine Payne's surprise when he picked up his book this week, The Carrot Seed, and I casually mentioned he could probably read most of the words inside, then read most every word on his own to which he exclaimed, "I can read REAL books!" And that spurred Will to find it too, and he read it~


2. Limit Television~

My kids have very limited television time. It is not something we use to kill time. My favorite request is 'find something to do', and they are very good at it! The photos above were taken after school or through the afternoon when they choose reading as they're 'something' to do.


3. Reading (Listening) in Many Different Ways~

You can see above we have DVD players, CD players, and tape players they can use for listening to stories. Remember me saying if they can work an iPhone, they can work household appliances? Same goes for the players I listed. We have lots of books on tape from when I taught school, and we love Audible and Librivox. Having the choices in baskets out where they can see is important too!


4. Allow Books anytime especially at Rest Time and Bedtime~

We have three book shelves full of books under their desks and one in each of the bedrooms. It is always okay to pick a stack of books for rest time, AND never a complaint for bedtime if they are allowed to take a stack to read while they wait for their tuck in. Works like a charm!!!!!

5. Read in Front of Them~

Scott and I make it a habit to read aloud to them after baths each night as well as being seen reading around them. I really prefer real books but if I do read digitally, I read on a Kindle and not iPad... just sets a better example as real reading and not surfing the web. :)

BONUS:
We are finding since the kids have begun memorizing scripture for Awana, they are realizing the wonder of reading. It is finally clicking that every word spoken can be written and therefore read. This has especially been true for the boys, and we couldn't be happier for them!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

CNY & Year of the Monkey w/ Valentine's Day~

With three blogs running, I am paring down to one post a week here and seriously considering making it a post @ A Beautiful Symphony on the weekends. Would anyone have a problem with that? For now, here is our week in review.

Monday began with our Chinese New Year celebration~
 and we were excited to celebrate! There were celebrations in our area over the weekend, but we have found enjoying this holiday at home is right for us. After all, that's what their Chinese families are doing in China!
It just made sense to incorporate this special day into our school routine.
I pulled out all the things we have collected from our many trips to China. First thing was for everyone to choose a Chinese silk for photos~
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The kids are always so kind and willing to let me get portraits of them in their silks (don't know how much longer it will last~
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One of my favorite photo sessions of the year~
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It was really fun to pull out each special item, remember who it was chosen for, and discuss its Chinese heritage~
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Everyone had a turn playing the Chinese horn and playing paddle ball~
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Probably the most interesting item was the abacus so we watched a video to show us how it works. We also studied the intricate silk stitches on our tapestries~
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There were fan dances and puppet shows~
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Lantern making, mandarin character writing, and decorating~
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The day ended with Chinese take out and sweet friends waiting to travel to Korea for their little boy~
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Tuesday we began our FIAR row with three Caps for Sale books~
 It is the year of the Monkey in China so what better way to celebrate than read these wonderful books!
We made adorable monkeys for our journals and wrote quick narrations for the stories.
By far the most favorite activity was gathering hats from dadddy's closet and acting out the stories~
 Evie LOVED the Caps for Sale basket and was quite the accomplished hat peddler~

On Wednesday we were looking forward to Awana and love your leader night.
We glittered up 48 hearts and added a chocolate all on our family room coffee table~
 The big girls cut them all out, and the littles wrote LOVE on each.
Everyone got in on the glittering action~

Then it was more Caps of Sale books and peddling~

 Thursday we had haircuts so we thought we would run to the library as well.
We are a member of Pines Library System and if you check out this DVD about Zoo Atlanta,
you earn 2 free adult passes and 2 child ones too.
Catch~ you have to use them within 14 days so not sure we can swing it
but can check it out anytime and try again.
It was really interesting to know the history and they kids REALLY loved the Panda part~

EK found a new series at the library called Survivors dog series and reads them constantly!
She is on book 3 and she just started last Friday.
About every third chapter or so, we sit together (with Macy:), and she tells me the whole story line.
There are some dog fights in it and she always says that's a yucky part but her favorite part of them is guessing what the dogs are describing around them such as a helicopter (

Fun Friday was Fine Arts Friday this week...
We pulled out all mediums of art: chalk pastels, crayons, markers, watercolors, paint pods and did free art while listening to our artist (Millet) and composer (Chopin)~
 Everyone painted at least two masterpieces~
 We baked Valentine cookies and served them up~
(need a quick way to serve and not dirty dishes or waste paper plates? cut a plate in sections and serve away)

Lastly we made Lovebugs to give away to special people in our family.
My class used to make these way back in the day and I'm pretty sure we make them each year too~
 It just involved tracing a few hearts, cutting, gluing, and OF COURSE glitter~
 They turned out beautiful~

Once all the FINE ARTS craze was complete, everyone was found reading or listening to something they love~
 EK: Survivors, PC: Tapes of Just Right Stories, WP: CD in Awana Sparks book, SJ: chapter book from library (twaddle), and bitties NEEDED wanted to clean their table so I sprayed the shaving cream and let them go at it!

Other things we enjoyed through the week but didn't take photos~
Bible time
Reading our Chapter books: Little House, and Betsy and Tacy
Audible: Pippi Longstocking
Writing: Free Write from Brave Writer
Book Work: Spelling, Grammar, Math, and Cursive
American History: Finished Leif the Lucky and started Christopher Columbus
Geography: Finished Paddle to the Sea
Science: Still reading The Burgess Animal Book and YouTubing animal videos

It was a great and busy week and thankful for the weekend!!!


Friday, February 5, 2016

Fun Friday~ {Art, Music, Library}

Today was began two Simply Charlotte Mason studies: Art and Music~
 We loved learning about Millet and Chopin. (even Macy listened!)
Then we loaded up and went to the library~
 Everyone got their own library card and chose 3 books each~
 It was a very Fun Friday!!!