Sunday, January 29, 2012

What we've been up to these days...

To preface, I realized as I was putting this post together that I have no pictures of Big Guy this time. So instead of pictures, let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up: He's been working hard on his schoolwork (including a history day project on germ warfare), learning to drive (he just got his learner's permit), obsessively playing a computer game called Minecraft, and becoming increasingly independent and excited to go off to high school next year! He (along with the rest of us) started taking tae kwon do recently, and is also busy with youth activities at church and chess tournaments.

Little Guy has been working hard on his letters...

Though to be honest he is having some difficulty understanding the whole homeschool thing... "What do you mean I have to work now? I was just playing. I think I should go back to playing now, instead of doing school." Etc. Hence the "sneaky" learning with the cornmeal in the baking pan!:)

And we have all been busy studying vikings... Lots of books, stories and projects, culminating in a Viking funeral in the back pond! We even lit the ship on fire...

And while we have been busy with phonics and Norsemen (and algebra and Spanish and piano and...) Daddy has been busy with the work of state!
And all of the kids (and I) have started tae kwon do! I only have pictures of the little kids in the uniforms so far... I have been avoiding the camera when Big Guy and I are heading to class!

We've had a fun homeschool class at the zoo, and more recently, a visit to the kindergarten roundup at Topeka Collegiate (Miss G came along to visit her old teacher):

And finally and most recently, Miss G had a "slumberless slumber party" for her eighth birthday! The girls came over for the evening, and we did crafts, made pizza, had help doing hair and nails and then watched a girly movie! A good time was had by all (though our poor teenaged helper got pounced on by a lot of hyper 7 and 8 year olds!)

Happy Birthday, sweet girl!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

5K Academy is underway!:)

We finally settling in, both to the new house AND our new school year! We started classes on Monday the 29th, so we are into our fourth week now, and doing work with three kiddoes is getting (a wee bit) easier!

Just before we started the school year, we got to spend a day in Kansas City at the T-Rex Cafe for Little Guy's 5th birthday!

After our first week of school (the honeymoon?), over Labor Day weekend, Big Guy and I travelled down to Tulsa for a Chess tournament. We each got to spend the weekend doing what we liked: he played a ton of chess, learning a new style (slow play) and I got to knit, read, do school prep and watch junky TV to my heart's content!:) We came back refreshed and ready to dive into our work!

Big Guy is doing a history enrichment class at the library this fall, so while he learns about "mysteries of history", the little kids and I get to browse for books for next week's school and play in the kid area:

Miss G (and Little Guy, when he feels like it) is studying Medieval History this year. The text starts with the fall of Rome, so we started with a week or two of studying the Roman empire, and one day we made Roman Standards and had a parade around the cul de sac. Between that and the history enrichment class that Miss G is taking (which is a little further along in medieval history than we are yet and so is encompassing knights), she is completely obsessed with armor and shield making, the schoolroom is covered with bits of paper, and everyone in the family has had construction paper shields made for them, typically emblazoned with an eagle ("because they are brave").

While Miss G takes that history enrichment class at the park, Little Guy and I take time to smell the roses at the Gage Park Rose Garden!

Big Guy, meanwhile, is becoming a mad scientist! His Advanced Phyisical Science course has a LOT of experiments!

Little Guy loves to play games, and sometimes doesn't even realize he is "doing school"!

And in the middle of it all, Miss G asked her big brother to take the training wheels off of her bike and is tearing up the cul de sac on a daily basis!

She has also inherited her Grandmom's interest in sudoku, so I got this "unifix" sudoku game because in a homeschool classroom, you can never have too many "unifix" linking blocks!

And to bring us up to the present, yesterday we finished our study of the early Celts by staging a Celtic battle, complete with war axes and battle paint!

They were opposed by a fierce barbarian invader:

Who was ultimately defeated...
And soon our warriors gave up their axes in favor of whatever tool came to hand in the fierce battle that raged on all afternoon, ending only with a snack of puppy chow, snack food of champions!

And that's what our little school has been up to! (Plus, of course, all of the math, grammar, spelling, Latin, etc. that aren't as photo friendly!)

We are about to start a round of house rennovations (replacing carpets with hardwood, etc.) and so hopefully our work won't be thrown too much into chaos. Once everything is done, I'll finally do a post about the new house!:)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A baby no more

My little guy is now a big(ger) guy! We had a fun day, first spending an hour at the new Discovery Center in Topeka while Miss G went to her history enrichment class. Then we headed in to Kansas City for lunch and a movie. We went to the T-Rex Cafe, though, and the lure of the play area there was too great, and we never made it to the movie!

Happy FIVE to my story-telling, dress-up loving, super hero snuggle bunny boy!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Introducing 5K Academy

I've been lining up my little ducks in a row, getting ready for the new school year. We are official "homeschoolers" now that the little kids are no longer using the public virtual school. Big Guy is still officially a part of Lawrence Virtual School, but we are doing some other coursework, as well. All of this means that we had to register our "school" with the state, and so we have named ourselves the 5K Academy!

Our plans to school throughout the summer fizzled out a bit. Miss G's reaction on the "first day of second grade" in early June was, "Why am I being PUNISHED with summer school???" I figured that a good attitude about learning was more important than my notions about year round schooling, so we have just worked on a few little projects and done LOTS of reading (and Little Guy has been taking part in all of that, as well). Big Guy has actually been fairly inspired to do schoolwork, because he figures if he works hard enough, he might be able to get some 9th grade work in before he hits high school next year. We haven't done quite as much as we expected, but he's gotten some good work done, in between Boy Scout camp last week, chess camp next week, and other summer fun.

I thought it might be fun to review some of our homeschool plans for the year, and some of the unexpected things that I have found to be really useful. Not curriculum (though I might do a future post about that), but actual supplies that make our lives easier every day! Some of them I never would have guessed would be so important to our success! A few of these include:

* a date stamp. Really, the motivational power of being able to date stamp a paper to show that it is DONE cannot be overestimated. Even Big Guy likes to do it! And there is a (good natured) tussle every morning to see who gets to change the date!

*Good quality colored pencils. Pencils are my coloring tool of choice. Crayons can't get enough good detail work, and markers simultaneously dry out and end up all over the kids in addition to the paper. I have a really nice set of 48 Prismacolor pencils that I hoarded for a long time as my "grown up" pencils, but have finally allowed the kiddos to use (as long as the set STAYS TOGETHER!!). Regular old colored pencils (Rose and Crayola, etc.) are okay, but there typically aren't a ton of colors, and sometimes the colors aren't as vivid as I'd like.

*Dry erase boards of various sizes. We have small, slate-sized ones for when we are working together at the desk on math or something, wall mounted ones for art work, schedule notes, etc. and a multi-purpose easel with a white board, too. They help reduce the amount of scratch paper we use, and it feels like a treat for the little kids to do math, grammar, hangman, etc. on a board. But what to use on them? Dry erase markers are okay, but they dry out really quickly (especially with small kids who forget to cap them), and again, there is the issue of getting ink on body parts instead of boards. Which leads me to...

*Dry erase crayons, which I just discovered. I LOVE them. Nice bold colors, they don't dry out or stain hands. A big hit.

*A 3 hole punch. For putting endless pieces of paper into various notebooks, portfolios, etc.

*Wall hanging folder holder. This is one of my favorite organizational tools! There is a pocket for each subject that holds the assignments for the day, so as they work on each subject, they grab the appropriate file folder plus any necessary books, and when they are done with the subject, the completed work goes in a basket sitting at the foot of the wall hanger. So then when I am doing my planning time, I can just grab everything out of the basket, do any grading, filing, etc. and then refill the folders and stick them back in their slots. It has made organizing the day much easier, because the kids can always see what work they still have to do, and if I am occupied with one of the other kids, they can start work on the next subject without me.

*Storage clipboards. I have one of these for each big kid (a clipboard that opens up so papers, supplies, etc. can be stored inside). If we want to take our schoolwork on the road and do our work at the library or the coffeeshop or even just the backyard, we can put the day's worth of papers, pencils, etc. inside it and go!

*Audiobooks, audiobooks, audiobooks! My kids and I love them! We listen to them going to sleep, in the car, while playing and coloring... Miss G would like to use them as we do other schoolwork, but Ifind it too distracting. Jim Weiss is one of our favorite storytellers for everything from Egyptian and Greek myths to Robin Hood to Sherlock Holmes!

*One of the supplies I am eager to use much LESS of this year is the computer. Both of the big kids used online curricula, and I felt that we spent all of our time attached to a laptop, especially since they like to use them for fun sometimes, too. Big Guy is still doing an online curriculum this year (though a he is doing a couple of subjects, such as math and logic, offline), but we are going "old school" this year with the little kids. All of my curriculum choices are book based (with the possible exception of Spanish, if we decide to continue it this year for Miss G). More details on that later, though!

There is lots more, I'm sure, but these are a few of the things that I learned to love using this year. And I'm getting excited for our new year in August! Time to get in the car and drive Big Guy out to Lindsborg for a week of chess camp! Miss G is off to three weeks of theater day camp beginning tomorrow, and couldn't be more excited!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Days 7-9 (AKA Beaches, trains and firetrucks)

The morning after the big party was chilly and drizzly, but we HAD to take a quick trip over the the beach before going over to Nana's to hang out for the day! We had brunch at The Goldenrod (where I waitressed in my salad days) and got a big box of salt water taffy to bring home to Daddy, then went to visit Uncle Bob and Aunt Cheryl at their store, then despite the chill, headed down to Short Sands:

We then headed over to South Berwick for more fun hanging around with aunts, uncles and cousins! (It is distinctly strange to be at the grownup table when hanging out at my Nana's house! Even stranger since it is now Uncle Jim & Aunt Joanne's house, not Nana's!)

Little Guy got to try on cousin Jeff's fire vest, and was excited to learn that we would be touring the fire station in a couple of days.

After a nice day with the family, we decided that Big Guy (and maybe Mom, too!) needed a brief break from 24/7 time with the little kids, so they stayed with Nana and Gamma in South Berwick, and Big Guy and I headed back to the hotel for one more night, enjoying some wicked good fried clams!

The next day we moved over to South Berwick for good, because the little kids were wildly excited by the possibility of staying in my aunt and uncles's RV! So we spent some more time with family, and drove through the rain to Mike's Clam Hut in Wells for a yummy dinner:

The next morning we went to visit a friend of Nana's who has spent over 20 years creating an amazing display in his basement:

And then we were off to the beach (can you tell we are a bit excited?)

Making a mad dash for the waves:

This was a close as I was prepared to get to the frigid water of the north Atlantic, but my children had other ideas!

The weather was strangely variable... one minute huge fogbanks would roll across the beach:

And the next minute the sun would be shining! We were actually fooled by this weather, leading to a MOMFAIL moment: I forgot sunscreen, and we have suffered for it every since. (Bad Mom)

I think the kids enjoyed feeding the lunch leftovers to the gulls more than they enjoyed eating their own lunches:

Little Guy dug a hole:

Little Guy stuck his head in the hole. (Don't ask me, I have no idea.)

When the sun got warm, the Kansans got brave, venturing further into the waves:

A particularly large wave led to a moment of common sense, with Miss G running madly away from the freezing ocean:


The Sand Monster wants to know, "Are you talkin' to me?!"

(I figured that I had to prove that I was on the trip, too!;))

Tidal pools are even more fun because it is slightly warmer than in the waves!

After a wonderful (though crispy) time at the beach, we ran over to Eliot to meet up with my cousin AnnMarie, her husband Jeff and their three kids (with whom my kiddoes had much fun throughout the trip!) Jeff gave us the grand tour of the Eliot Volunteer Fire Department:

And that's about the size of it! Days 10-12 can be summed up very simply: Drivingdrivingdrivingdrivingdriving.

We had a lovely adventure together, but we are SO happy to be home with Daddy again!