Wednesday, March 29, 2017

100 Days of Art: Day 2 - Pyramids

Mercie has been studying ancient Egypt in the Mystery of History Volume One. Last year, we made pyramids from sugar cubes and gold paint. I was very happy that the activity for this lesson was not a sugar cube pyramid, but a poster-board pyramid!

You will need: poster board, scissors, a ruler, tape, and a pencil (paint is optional)

1.) Cut 5 squares from the cardboard, 9 inch by 9 inch.
2.) Put one square to the side to be the base of your pyramid.
3.) Draw a dot at the top center of your remaining four squares (at 4.5 inches).
4.) Draw a line from the center of the dot to the bottom left corner, and then from the center dot to the bottom right corner. Do this on all four squares.
5.) Cut on the lines so you have four isosceles triangles.
6.) Tape the triangle to the base (the other square) and then to each other to form a pyramid.
7.) Paint if desired.

After Mercie made her pyramid, Silas decided he needed one, too. I cut his squares 5 inch by 5 inch and drew his center dot at 2.5 inches. It made a cute little pyramid that he painted as well.

You could use any measurements as long as they are square. Mercie and Silas had fun making and painting these pyramids.

Day 1: Learning to Draw
Day 2: Pyramids

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Kindergarten at Home

This is my fifth time to teach kindergarten. My "baby" will be five years old in July, but we started My Father's World Kindergarten with him 5 weeks ago. As you know, I am trying to use Charlotte Mason's influence in our homeschool, and she wasn't a big fan of formal education at a young age. I'm not either, even though I am using a curriculum with my almost-five year old son.

My Father's World Kindergarten (MFW-K)  is a very gentle curriculum. We spend maybe 30-45 minutes a day using it, and most of that time is spent reading books and discussing. MFW-K has a huge book list in the back of the teacher's guide that I take to the library with me. I try to find as many books as I can on that list, and some that aren't on the list.

We spend a few minutes each day reviewing letters and sounds and learning a new letter and sound. Titus uses a salt tray to practice writing his numbers. He has a few worksheets each week to do, but he loves completing them. They are quick and simple worksheets - sound discrimination, handwriting, and cut and glue type worksheets. He usually has one a day.

He has a theme for each week based on his letter of the week. For example, S was sun and M was moon. We read lots of living books on the sun and moon, played with our shadows, made a sun-dial, planted seeds, made the moon phases with Oreo cookies, painted a sun and a moon, and made a creation mobile.

There are Bible stories almost daily that correspond with the theme. We sing songs like "This Little Light of Mine" and "The B-I-B-L-E". He listens to classical music and short poems (like "My Shadow").

He plays with Cuisenaire rods and pattern blocks. We have a number of the day craft-stick cup and practice counting each day. He is learning patterns, shapes, and his days of the week. He is learning to put 24-piece puzzles together and build things with Legos. He is learning to make up beds, put away clean clothes, sweep the floor, wipe down countertops, pick up the outside toys and patio, and dust (not all of this everyday!). He is learning the books of the Bible with his older siblings.

We read books, color, draw, paint, and play outside. He can ride a bike without training wheels (and has been for over a year now), swing himself on the swings (no more pushing for me!), and do flips on the trampoline. He knows how to cast his own fishing pole into the water and reel it in. He loves to pick up worms and feel them wiggle on his hands. He picks flowers and collects rocks. We take walks and look at the clouds.

His kindergarten is just what it should be for a little boy his age.
A Net In TimeSchooling

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Adding to Our Library

The library here often has a shelf of "Free Books" - books they are trying to get rid of due to a surplus or because they're old. Friday, as I was walking out of the library, I noticed several good living books to add to our library. Here are the wonderful books I got for free:

"Young Helen Keller"
"Young Thomas Edison"
"Young Clara Barton"

"Where the Wild Things Are"
"Fish is Fish"
"Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter"
"A Pocketful of Cricket"
What have you added to your library recently?

Saturday, March 25, 2017

100 Days of Art: Day 1 - Learning to Draw

My friend over at Our Unschooling Journey started a really neat series last year on her blog called "100 Days of Art". It was so fun to see all of the fun and out-of-the-box art projects her children completed. She is around Day 80 of her series, and I'm inspired to "copy" her and do something similar on my blog!

I plan to post not only the art projects we complete, but any artist studies we do, as well. Since I have five kids, and they are all so different, I should have plenty of material to write about!

This week, I'm posting about my 9-year old daughter, Mercie. She has started using "God and the History of Art". She is learning how to use lines to shade, how to draw with depth, and how to draw ellipses. Here are some examples of her work:
"A picture is a poem without words."

A hot air balloon using ellipses and lines

I'm very proud of her progress. She is learning how to use lines to draw and shade. For a 9 year old, I think her work is very good.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Reflections on our Week

This week, we had some very nice weather. The highs were in the upper 70's and low 80's. The kids tried to get in the pool, but discovered it was still too cold to swim! Eli and the boys made a neat fort from some pine branches. They spent several hours finding the perfect branches and weaving them together to make this shelter.

We went fishing a few days, and Silas caught his first fish. He was super excited, but sad when we let it go.

We finished our family read-aloud, which was "The Lost Clue" - a Lamplighter book from 1907. My kids loved it and always wanted me to read "just one more chapter". It took awhile for them to get used to the old-fashioned words, but now they enjoy listening to the fancy talk. It makes stories seem much prettier and interesting!

Mercie has been using the Mystery of History as her history spine. She read "Life in the Great Ice Age" and "What Really Happened to the Dinosaurs?" as her living book supplements. I highly recommend these books, especially "Life in the Great Ice Age". It's beautifully illustrated and a truly interesting story to read. We both learned quite a bit from it.

Silas learned about flowers and seeds last week and this week. We read several books from the library, but our favorite was "From Seed to Plant" by Gail Gibbons. We also read "The Tiny Seed" by Eric Carle, which was a great book. He planted some seeds and has watched the grow! They've really spouted up this week.

Titus read books about the sun and moon the past two weeks. We particularly enjoyed "Moonbear's Shadow", and he kept trying to run from his shadow, as well! We made several fun crafts, including a sun dial and a creation mobile.

I've been preparing Eli and Mikaela's books and waiting for them all to come in the mail this week. I'm super excited about a few of these, including "The Useful Book" for Mikaela to use for home-ec, and "Survivor Kid" which will teach Eli how to survive in the wilderness. The second half of "The Useful Book" is 'shop', which the kids will use together when we get home to Louisiana where my husband's tools are. Both of these books are living books, as they are very conversational and interesting to read while providing much information.
Here are a few more books they'll be reading. We are still waiting on "Exploring the World of Biology", which is their science spine.
These books will be the kids literature books that we will take two grammar lessons a week from, as well as copy-work a few times a week. 

For Bible time, we are reading in the New Testament in the mornings and Old Testament at night. We are currently in Galatians in the morning and 2 Kings at night. That's our Bible curriculum - I read from the New Living Translation and we discuss what we read.

Mikaela had piano lessons on Wednesday. The pianist at the church we have been going to has been giving her lessons each week. We are so grateful, because she is doing so well and I didn't want her lessons to stop just because we aren't home.

We made a few trips to the library, where the kids got a mix of twaddle and good literature. I'm really trying to get rid of all the book twaddle, but it's hard. This library has some great books, but it also has "Dork Diaries" and "Big Nate" books, which my 11 year old and 9 year old love to read. I'm torn, because they love to read these books, but they just aren't good books. They're full of nonsense, name-calling, bad behavior, and a general negative attitude toward family. I'm slowly pulling my kids away from these books and toward great books.
Weekly Wrap-Up
How was your week?

A Peek into a Nature Journal

I'd like to post a few pictures each week from one of my children's nature journals. This week, I'm featuring Silas's nature journal. Silas is six years, 9 months old. He planted some flower seeds last week, and they've been growing like crazy. He keeps them in our window and waters them daily. He drew a picture of how they look now.


I love how he included details, especially how he drew two leaves on each stem. He even drew them of different heights. He was very observant.

And that's a peek into one of our nature journals!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Jettison the Junk

The word jettison means to abandon or discard something. When I titled this post "Jettison the Junk", I'm referring to getting rid of all of the stuff that encumbers our homeschooling.

There are so many things these days that we think we much add to our day to ensure our children are "learning enough", "doing enough", and that we aren't "failing them". You know what I'm talking about! When we read what other homeschool families are doing, we tend to compare our family with theirs. "My kids aren't doing XYZ" and "Maybe we should ABC like they do" overwhelm our thoughts. We become unsatisfied with our homeschool, our family, our life. We buy more curriculum, more books, more games, more stuff - until we are crowding our days with junk we don't need. One more workbook, one more math drill, one more program - it becomes superfluous.

There are also so many things these days that junk up our children's minds - television, iPads, X-box, Wii, computers, and cell phones. Children are constantly "plugged in" to something. Everywhere I go, I see children playing on cell phones or hand-held devices. I no longer see children reading books while waiting at the doctor's office; instead, they are playing mindless games on their cell phones. This junk, or twaddle as Charlotte Mason would have called it, is dumbing our children down and wasting precious time and even more precious minds.

My children do not have cell phones, iPads, or any video games. They are the odd ones out when it comes to this. My 14 year and 11 year olds are the only kids we know their age who don't have cell phones or video games. And I'm totally fine with that! Instead, they read books - actual books they hold in their hands and turn the pages. They ride bikes, play outside, draw and color, make up imaginative games, and even have time to be bored.

Even the television shows that are geared to our children are twaddle - they are foolish cartoons that offer no educational value or enrichment for our children. I have quit letting my children watch television shows like SpongeBob and Teen Titans. I was embarrassed to even watch it. Cartoons, in general, are nonsensical. And now they are not allowed in my house.

The media is trying to dumb us down. I won't stand for it.

I am burdened by what I see all around me. The generation of children that is rising up scares me. These will be the future of our families, our communities, our country.

I implore you to unplug your family. Jettison the junk that is clouding our lives. Get rid of everything that is crowding your homeschool day. Find joy in reading good books with your children.

A Net In Time Schooling

We Will Enjoy Learning Again

I have been homeschooling since my now-14 year old was 4 years old. Other than 1 year in public school, my oldest three have always been homeschooled (and my younger two have never been in public school). With five kids, you would think I had this thing figured out.


Actually, I think I do have it figured out. The Charlotte Mason lifestyle has always, always, always worked for my family. We are so much more peaceful, the children enjoy learning and reading, and we are generally much happier when we are using Charlotte's methods.

So why do I always mess with what works?

I have been asking myself this question. While we trying a very rigid, very textbook, very public-school like curriculum with my older two (including DVD instruction for every subject!), I was such a different person:
  • I was stressed out all the time.
  • I was angry at my children and I didn't know why.
  • I was yelling (!).
  • I felt overwhelmed - I was always trying to grade a test or quiz, check review questions, trying to figure out what they were each learning...
  • I was unhappy.
  • I envied my sister, who has all four of her kids in public school.
  • I didn't want to quit the curriculum because I don't like being a quitter. I knew if I kept using the curriculum, though, I would quit homeschooling.
  • I didn't know exactly what was wrong with me.
I finally figured out that it was because we weren't homeschooling the way that works for our family. I sat down with the two oldest and talked with them. They weren't happy, either, and I knew it. I asked them when they enjoyed homeschooling the most - and they both answered with things that were Charlotte Mason style!

That's when I knew I was going back.

Charlotte Mason's style of education works for our family. The living books, the short lessons, the Notebooking, the nature study, the enrichment, the family lessons, the handicrafts...

Busy work was killing their love of learning. Tests, quizzes, questions and answers, boring textbooks - these were sucking the joy out of my children.

I decided to jump into the Charlotte Mason education. They will  be using living books for history, science, and language arts. They will be learning life skills and handicrafts that will be useful for their adult lives. They will be reading good literature and discussing it. They will be notebooking what they learn instead of answering questions and taking tests. They will be allowed to linger pleasantly in books. They will take nature walks, enjoy famous painting and classical music, and read poetry.

We will enjoy learning again.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Time Spent Out of Doors

Our family is most definitely an outdoor family. My husband is an avid hunter and fisher, not to mention a farmer and rancher. (He is also a pipeline foreman, which takes us to different parts of the country for six to eight months out of the year. The rest of the year we are farmers. His dad and friend take care of everything for us while we are gone.)

My children love to be outside. We are staying on a lake in a condo while my husband is working in South Alabama. The kids love to pick up their fishing poles and go fishing. We don't have a big "yard" like we are used to at our home in Louisiana, but there is room for them to run and play. There is a small playground, some grass where we can throw the football, places we can walk (mostly uphill), and plenty of big rocks to climb on. The little ones are always making up new games to play and begging the older ones to join in.

Even my older children enjoy being outdoors. They enjoy riding 4-wheelers in the fields and woods, hunting with their dad, and working the cows. They like to take their books outside and read under a shade tree. Mikaela enjoys working with her horses.

I don't have to make my children go outside, especially when we are home. When the weather is bad or it's too cold to go outdoors, my children get cranky and restless. I'm thankful we live in a place with mild winters! There is rarely a day we don't go outdoors even for a few minutes.

"In the first place, do not send them; if it is anyway possible, take them;
for although the children should be left much to themselves, there is a great deal to be done
and a great deal to be prevented during these long hours in the open air.
And long hours they should be; not two, but four, five, or six hours
they should have on every tolerably fine day, from April till October."
-Charlotte Mason
Charlotte Mason recommends that we take our children outside, not just send them outdoors. She also recommends four to six hours a day when the weather is nice. This is not a problem for us - my older children gladly spend that much time outside when it's a beautiful day. On a really hot day, I may have to bribe them with swimming, water guns, or ice cream. My younger children don't seem to notice if it's too hot or too cold - they just want to be outside.
In the spring and fall, we generally do spend four to six hours a day outdoors. We are finished with school by noon, and we tend to stay outside until five or six in the evening. I do run in and out, swapping laundry and cooking dinner, but the children stay outside most of that time. After all, I do have a house to run!
When it's hot in the summer, we stay outside if we are in a place near a pool. There is a pool right outside our door at this condo we are staying in, so we will have access daily! Last summer, we spent in North Dakota, and the weather was always beautiful. If we don't have school, we may go outside at 8 in the morning and stay until outside until it gets dark, around 8 in the evening. When it's really, really hot, we go outside in the mornings, come in during the hottest part of the day and read, run errands, or go to the library. Then, we will go back outside in the cooler evening.
When my children are outdoors, we don't always have a formal 'nature study' time, but I have noticed that they naturally take notice of things - unusual bugs, flowers blooming, butterflies fluttering around, birds flying and chirping, and how green the tree leaves are.

We also like to play family games - kickball, whiffle ball, freeze tag. We can usually convince some of my husband's friends and co-workers to join us in a game of whiffle ball on Sunday afternoons when we have a big area to play in. The younger kids love when the adults play!

Taking walks is also one of our favorite things to do as a family. The kids like to ride their bikes while I walk, but sometimes they enjoy walking with me. We love walking by the lake, watching the boats go by, looking for fish, and picking up pretty rocks.

Here a list of some things you and your children can do out-of-doors:
  • take a walk
  • go for a hike
  • ride bikes
  • play kickball, whiffle ball, baseball, football, soccer...
  • read a book in the shade
  • collect flowers, leaves, rocks, bugs...
  • have a race
  • look at the clouds
  • bird-watch
  • plant flowers
  • weed the garden
  • paint or sketch
  • play with water guns
  • go fishing
  • go frog-hunting
There are so many things you can do, but sometimes the best thing to do is just ... go outside.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A Middle School Charlotte Mason History

This year, I have an 11 year old 7th grader and a 14 year old 9th grader. I began this school year with a curriculum so opposite of everything Charlotte Mason, and it failed miserably. We tried Bob Jones with the DVDs for all 6 subjects - and it bombed. The kids finished around 70 days of the 180 days planned, but we burned out on it. It was so much busy-work, so much textbook, so much boring... I want my kids to love learning like they did when we were homeschooling Charlotte Mason style.

This is what we will be doing. It will count as 1 American History credit for Mikaela, my 9th grader.

"The Light and The Glory for Young Readers" will be our first history spine. This book covers American history from 1492-1787. There are several more books in this series that go through 1860. We will use these in order, adding lots of living books and rich biographies as we go along. The first books we will be adding are on Christopher Columbus: "Christopher Columbus: Across the Ocean Sea (Heroes of History)" and "Christopher Columbus: Adventurer of Faith and Courage".

They will read, of course, and do oral and written narrations along with map work and notebooking (which they love to do). We will be using a simple, five subject notebook for their work, as they prefer working on lined paper. I am making a weekly schedule, and I'm making it week-by-week. I don't want to plan ahead too much, where we are rushing through each book. I want to give my children the opportunity to "linger pleasantly" in each book.

I will post every book title we read with "The Light and The Glory", along with examples of their written narration and notebooking pages.

Monday, March 20, 2017

To Linger Pleasantly

"Let him linger pleasantly over the history of a single man, a short period, until he thinks the thoughts of that man."
-Charlotte Mason