Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Fresh Start

Ok, so I'm so great at blogging, considering my last post was in January. Spring is a very busy time for me doing gardening and spending a lot of time outdoors. Now that the sweltering heat is upon us, I tend to stay indoors more. Between the mosquitoes and the humidity triggered migraines, it's all I can do to get out and feed the chickens and pick our produce. I did however find a website that gets us out of the house for a little bit. We observe fireflies for ten minutes once a week and send that information into the National Wildlife Federation to help out in their study of fireflies. I believe they're the same organization who do the Backyard Bird Watch.  Their website has a lot of 'watches' for you to do in your own backyard.

We just started our summer term last week. It amazes me how everything in the world will come up to keep me from teaching starting the very first day. From pet mice dying to an almost severed thumb (my dad has a workshop in our garage.) However, thanks to my wonderful family, we have the school room in working order so I don't have to drag the centers out into the living room every day. Nor do I have to stare at half primed walls and gaping holes where baseboards belong. The room was in bad disarray when we moved in and is the last room to get TLC in the house. My nephews and brother helped me gut the room and reorganize. My sister-in-law set me up with some great Montessori work, helped me dust myself off and set me in the right direction. My dad and husband helped me get the room painted, sealed and finish trimming the windows and got the baseboards put up. It looks so fresh and clean I almost don't want to use it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Feelings of Guilt

Today started as any normal day and ended up taking a huge detour from my to-do list. C didn't wake up today until 3pm, so I had pretty much all day to get stuff done. It has been frustrating me that I cannot do proper centers with H and B. Having taught Kindergarten for five years in a brick and mortar school, I find myself feeling guilty that my kids are going to miss out on the 'traditional' kindergarten experience. I know the benefits of homeschooling FAR outweigh any experience they may have going to 'regular' school. However, I still find myself always trying to find that balance. The problem is finding a way to keep C out of the centers he's not ready for and the fact that my husband wants school stuff to stay in the school room. Don't get me wrong, I'm eternally grateful that I have a room designated just for school. But it's just not big enough to set up play centers. So, I have come up with a system that I think will work. It will require me to set up each morning and put it all back in the school room each afternoon, but I think it's worth it.

Legos went in the playpen to keep C out and away from them. On the table in the background (in front of the fish tank) I put our field guides for easy access to H for whenever she wants to bird-watch.

Playdoh at the table.

 Blocks in the corner. By the end of the day they had brought out their My Little Ponies and Polly Pockets to build castles and stables.

Art in the other corner.

Puzzles on the tool chest. As you can see H had to try them all out and revisited each center at least twice. B was content to just build with Legos most of the day.

Other play centers will be rotated in as they lose interest in the current ones. I have an art easel/chalkboard to add and bins that I have turned into sand/water tables.
Work centers will remain in the school room where I can keep an eye on them and help if needed.

So even though I didn't even touch my to-do list and my kitchen is full of dirty dishes, I feel as though I accomplished a lot today and have eased the feelings of guilt that loom over my school day.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Teachable Moments

Today we observed birds at our feeder and learned how to read a field guide (finding SC on the map, see what color it is and then finding corresponding color on list of information about where that bird can be found.) We identified a Wren, Titmice, Cardinal, Yellow Finch and H's favorite a Chickadee. H and I found the bird in the book, I wrote the name and drew three rectangles below. She then observed the bird and colored each rectangle to show what colors the bird had on it. I then had her dictate any distinguishing marks/characteristics that the bird might have i.e. the Titmice had pointy feathers on their head.
We briefly discussed migration. I introduced the term and explained that some birds go where it's warm when it's cold here. Some birds stay. So we concluded that the birds we found do not migrate since we have snow right now.
H is also in the stage of whether things are boys or girls. So we looked in the field guide to notice how the boys had bright colors and the girls were more dull in color. We had a male and female cardinal come to the feeder to observe.

Now, on to the teachable moment. It seems as though whenever I'm trying to get a lesson done, everything in the world happens to interrupt. I end up getting tunnel vision and so focus on completing the lesson that I don't take advantage of teachable moments. As we were sitting, observing birds and looking through our book, a huge beetle goes walking by on the floor. Of course, it was then choas between us and the window. The dog was trying to eat it, B and C where trying to touch it, I was just trying to get them all to move so we could observe the birds.  That's when it hit me...duh, observe the massively awesome, cool beetle that is crawling through our livingroom.
We are still trying to identify it, so if anyone knows, please give input. We do not have any beetle or bug identification books and I cannot find it on the internet. It's middle set of legs and antennae are hairy, it is very shiny, and it hisses.

Monday, January 3, 2011

One-Hour Challenge #1

Went for a walk down our street, something different than just our own backyard. We discovered pods with seeds in them, ice in the dirt, acorns, a bird's nest, shadows and the fact that some trees lost their leaves and others didn't (some of the ones with their leaves also had berries.) We haven't decided which two we're going to study further, they didn't really show an interest in one particular thing. We will probably narrow it down to acorns and evergreens or shadows. The important thing is we got outside!

Do holly leaves hurt? Ouch! Yes they do.

The ice froze in straight up-and-down lines in the dirt. It was cold to touch!

A Bumpy Start

I must say I was a bit disappointed that I couldn't find any Charlotte Mason books or Handbook of Nature Study in my area. I went to the local large bookstore chain and they said they could order...with a four dollar deliver fee tacked on to the already high price. I then trudged on over to our local library. They did not have it nor did any of the local branches. Call it my impatience of wanting a book NOW, or the fact that I just like to hold the book in my hand and flip through it before I buy it, but I don't usually buy things on-line. However, it looks like this time I may have to break my 'old-fashioned' ways and purchase it from Amazon.
This will not deter me from starting the One-Hour Challenge today. I purchased a little journal for H to start her nature journal and we head out today to the big world of our front yard!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year and Out of My Comfort Zone

Well, with a New Year comes new experiences. I'm not exactly what you would call technically savvy or a witty writer. But I have set a two-part goal this coming year. First, to step up the efforts I put towards homeschooling and second, to spend more time outdoors with my three little ones. The latter is what brings me to creating a blog (something I vowed I'd never do.) I am very excited about following the Outdoor Hour Challenge and recording our adventures and findings.