Monday, August 31, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Dakota has been busy working on our homeschool website.
In the picture above he has 3 screens hooked up to one computer so he can see three pages at the same time. It's really cool how you can scroll the one mouse from screen to screen.
People would really not believe the insane amount of hours Dakota puts into working on this website. Co-op is starting up so there's a lot of extra work in the fall and also in the spring when we plan for the next school year. Once he gets over this hump he'll only have the newsletter each month and that won't be bad at all. It only gets hairy when everything is due at once.
So now you have a peek into Dakota's world.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
This is an old train track that crosses over the Ouachita River. My mom tells stories of walking across this train bridge when she was a little girl.
They guys seem to love to take water pictures.
Elijah snapped this picture of Dakota in the van.
It's always interesting to see what Elijah took pictures of. You never know what he'll get.
We had a fun day. They guys took some pictures and we had lunch out, a trip to Hobby Lobby and got a snow cone on the way home.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Now that we are starting back with school it means workbox time again. I really love these workboxes.
This year we are going to start off using them a bit different than we did before and see how it goes.
Since Elijah and I are doing this notebook rotation several boxes will stay the same all week. Some of the fun boxes will change up.
This week are focusing on these notebooks; World History, Copy Work, Creation, Presidents and Stamps. Each day we will also do spelling and math.
I should say that I'm not a fan of spelling for young children. Spelling list are pointless and do not teach spelling. I came across All About Spelling . It's not just a spelling program, it will help with reading issues.
This week in workboxes we have:
1. Math Wizardry
2. All About Spelling
3. Cat in the Hat unit
4. World History
5. pipe cleaner craft
7. Copy work
9. Stamp collecting
10. Egypt dig
11. Reader Rabbit language computer game
12. Tri-Ominos game
Saturday, August 22, 2009
I bought this sketch book at Wal-Mart.
I am not an artist so I really had no idea what I would put in this art journal. So on the first page I just doodled.
Then I decided to do some of the same projects Elijah was also doing.
A friend had a blog post "Are You Part of the Herd?" This picture reminded me of her post so I wrote a little bit about that here.
I used colored pencils on this picture.
I used oil pastels on this drawing.
Elijah was very impressed with my eye for some reason. This was done with colored pencils.
Elijah and I both did this abstract face. His turned out much better than mine.
This was done with water color paints.
I've had a great time working in my art journal. It's fun doing art while the kids are also doing art and encouraging one another. Elijah seems to be very impressed with my art. He asked me if I took art lessons when I was a kid. I love his innocent eyes viewing my art.
I would like to encourage you to try doing art for yourself while the kids are doing art. You probably feel like you don't have time to do art for yourself, but you should always make the time to make memories with your kids.
I signed Elijah up for a little summer swap going on through someones blog. He ended up with a pal from Texas who is also a 9 year old boy.
Elijah fixed up a box of goodies and sent to his summer swap pal and this is what his pal sent him.
I excited about the Greece book. We will use that when we study Ancient Greece this year.
It was a fun swap.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
First you must know that I don't buy curriculum, workbooks or textbooks like you probably expect all homeschoolers to. I'm not putting down anyone who does buy such things, if it works for you great. I prefer more freedom and more hands on. I'm not saying we don't have any books, curriculum or workbooks in our school room. We do have some that I've bought used, but I don't use them like they were written to be used. I like to make up my own way. LOL
By "unit" I mean Unit Study. I could describe a unit study for you, but since Amanda Bennett has already typed out what I would say I'll just copy and paste her words.
What is a unit study?
It is defined as an in-depth study of a topic (space, trees, cars, etc.) that takes into account many areas of the topic, such as geography, science, history, art, etc. It is a complete immersion into the topic so that the student will see things as a "whole" instead of bits and pieces learned throughout their education.
This concept of learning closely resembles the way that we learn and approach problems as an adult in today's world. Given a specific project as an engineer, I am expected to do the research to thoroughly define and understand all facets of the problem, as well as coming up with some solutions based on my newly-gained knowledge. The unit study approach works on the same principle, exposing students to an area for them to study in depth, examining the history, development, political impact, etc..
When I am using unit studies, I plan them so that while the child is learning the basic material, he/she is also reinforcing other academic skills. Reading skills are emphasized with the various books studied. Writing skills are developed through writing assignments, copying and dictation and journal writing. Thinking skills mature through hands-on activities and problem analysis.
Unit studies can be more interesting and captivating than standard textbook/workbook curriculum. They encourage the use of imagination, creativity and analytical thinking. Another advantage is that they can be worked on together by the whole family, teaching all of the children the same unit simultaneously while varying the assignments based on the child's capabilities. This saves the parent time and money, instead of having to buy, assign, teach and check separate workbooks and text materials for each child.
While unit studies are a terrific and effective way to learn, they do not replace a systematic and progressive program for math, phonics and grammar. It is my opinion that these areas have to be covered separately, using other curriculum, to give the child a solid foundation in these areas. They can be reinforced and applied through the unit study to allow the child to increase proficiency.
How do I use unit studies?
In preparing a unit study, I perform extensive research on the new topic, developing an outline that contains the most important points to learn, as well as questions to ask. This outline serves as the basis for my "Lesson Plan". I take the finished outline and divide it into portions to be covered during each of the weeks that we plan to spend on the study (typically 4 weeks).
Through the unit preparation, I will identify a list of important reference resources that will be used for the specific information and details. I will also identify a list of reading references that we can read for enjoyment about the topic -- typically fiction, sometimes classics. A good example would be the novel Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss when studying Oceans. These lists will be my teaching materials for the duration of the unit study, drawn on for use during the appropriate sections of the study outline.
After getting the outline complete and the resources defined, I am ready to begin the unit study with the children. We typically work on the unit study for 4 weeks, and then move to a new unit study. I have found that my children tend to tire of a subject after much more than 4 weeks, so I try to keep the material interesting over shorter time periods to maintain their enthusiasm for learning!
Why use unit studies?
Students learn more detailed information from a unit study approach:
The subject is seen as a whole instead of bits of history, geography or science scattered throughout their education.
The understanding of the topic can then be easily applied to other areas and topics.
Students tend to retain more of the information than with traditional curriculum:
They learn all dimensions of the topic, not just important names or dates.
Students develop a profound understanding and keep it for a lifetime -- SUCCESS!!
All ages of students can be taught simultaneously:
Older students will have more difficult assignments and be expected to learn at higher levels.
Younger students will pick up what they are ready to learn and their assignments can be adjusted accordingly.
I firmly believe the topic of the unit is not important, it's what you learn from finding the information. A unit study can be on baseball, Disney World, insects, cars, Barbie, birds, football, hunting... or anything else you can think of. I have always let my children pick the topics.
When Dakota was younger I would let him pick a topic and together we would gather up library books, videos and search for information on the internet. As we read library books we would make booklets about what we read. We would print information from the internet and make more booklets. We also would go to our shelves and look in the table of contents or index of books to see if we could find any information to add to our unit. We would study a topic until we felt like we learned all we could or we were just sick of the topic. As Dakota got older I would let him get on the computer and look up library books and gather them himself. Each year I would make him more responsible for the unit, until the year came that he was doing units all on his own without any input from me.
I believe this method has made Dakota the researcher he is today. If any topic comes up that he wants to learn about I know he knows how to research it and find the information he needs.
I have let Elijah pick out topics that he wants to learn about this year. I took this list and searched online for printouts. I've checked the library online to see what books and videos are available. Now I've got to pay my fines. I check through my books for information and reproducible pages. Also Elijah will make his own notebook pages. I don't have a set time each unit will last, most likely we'll move on when Elijah loses interest. (Dakota once did a study on cells for 6 weeks and made a very nice lapbook.)
There are also a lot of places online you can order premade unit studies from. Amanda Bennett is one of them, Hands of a Child, easyfunschool, homeschoolshare, KONOS, currclick (there's a link on the side bar of my blog) and many more places. You can google unit studies and come up with many places to purchase a unit already put together for you and you can find free units too. I will say I think half the fun is coming up with the unit yourself and following your child's lead. A premade unit tells you what to learn instead of letting the child explore and discovering what they want to learn. Saying that, but I have used some premade stuff and I will again in the future.
We also use Five In A Row and do unit studies based on the books we read from there.
This post got long, didn't it? I hope I have explained unit studies and how we use them. I'm always open to more questions though.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Many years ago when Dakota was about 6 we were in a Konos co-op. As a group we studied the medieval years and then had a big feast where we invited grandparents to attend..
One of our projects was to make a family banner. Jody, Dakota and I talked about it and decided we should have a big M on our banner. Jody also wanted fleur de lis on it.
So Jody and Dakota made the banner. I do have a sweet picture of them working so hard on the banner, but it's a print and not digital.
Dakota and I decided we would each buy a charm to represent us and sew it on the banner.
Over the years we have bought new charms and added to the banner. You'll see a stork charm one of the pictures above. It was added when we were expecting Elijah.
Here is a little charm that says family and 4 figures to represent us.
A cross to remind us to keep Christ in our family.
That little elephant was Dakota's first charm on the banner. Dakota has collected elephants since he was two year old.
Our family banner hangs in our playroom. I was just looking at it tonight as I sat on my bed matching up socks and thought I'd share it on my blog and encourage you to make memories with your kids. They grow up so fast.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Tonight something got in to me and I decided to tackle that basket! It took a while but we now have an empty sock basket. This basket may not be empty again for another year or two so I wanted to be sure to take a picture of it empty to share.
Now here is some interesting news. I folded two and half pairs of Dakota's socks out of that whole basket. He later went back through Jody's pile and found some he could claim.
Elijah had 97 pairs of socks! Yes, 97, I'm not kidding, I wouldn't kid about socks!
Jody had the next biggest pile, then me and then poor Dakota with his two pair and a single.
I guess socks will be on the shopping list for Dakota.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Let me back up to Thursday night. My plan was for us all to go to bed early! So around 12 AM I started moving us all that way. Yes, 12 AM is an early bedtime for us. We are night owls and our usual bedtime is anywhere from 2 - 4 AM, but it's no surprise if we all of a sudden realize it's 5 AM we need to go to bed. I am most always up by 8 or 9 AM no matter what time I go to bed, but I'll sleep to 10 once in a while. We just don't need much sleep. I've also been known to stay up all night and then carry on with the next day's plans.
So we were getting ready for bed. I get Elijah tucked in and a few minutes later he throws up, so I move him to the futon in the playroom and put some Phenergan cream on his wrist. He felt bad and just wanted to be with me. Jody has to sleep because he has to get up for work. I fixed Elijah and I places to sleep on the couch. He still feels nauseated and miserable all not long. At 5 AM I told him he had to go to sleep because we had to get up at 7 and go to co-op registration.
When we got to co-op he started crying that he was nauseated so he took in the garbage can from the van. He never did throw up and started feeling better after a while. Two boys his age came in so he hooked up DS games with them and they played.
Elijah does not have a virus or I would have never taken him out around people, it's just his stomach and the way he is. We are still having a hard time trying to get his formula intake back up. His body is being stubborn and not tolerating much formula. He is not getting no where close to the amount he was getting before his surgery.
When we left Elijah started telling me how bad he felt all day. He did seem to perk up about half way through the morning. He's really good at putting on a front in front of other people and not complaining. I think he feels bad so much and I try to carry on with life as much as possible he just has to go with the flow.
We left the church later than I had planned so we went straight to my doctor's appointment.
I've been seeing this dermatologist about every 2 weeks since April. My skin is flared up and driving me crazy. I've pretty much been on Predinose over and over all summer since April.
The Predinose helps, but as soon as I finish it I'm a mess again. He has also tried me on many many other meds that have not done anything. Only the Predisone has helped.
I have Firbormyalgia so he thinks it's affecting my skin and my nerve endings are flared up. I have no idea what to think, I just know I can't live like this. It has been horrible and painful. I hurt all over, my skin, my muscles and my joints. It's all I can do to keep from busting out in tears! So he put me on Neurontin 600 mg a day and Xyzal at bedtime, plus I got a shot in the office. I sure hope this helps!!!
We got a bite to eat, went to Target, got my prescriptions and headed home. I had took the first part of my meds as soon as we left Target so when we got home I got my shower and went to bed.
I woke up around 8:30 PM. Elijah was asleep on the futon since his bed didn't have sheets. Around 12 Jody went to bed and Elijah woke up shortly after and was mad because he was asleep when Jody got home and didn't wake up until after he went to bed so he missed seeing his dad. Dakota had went to bed around 12, he was pretty tired. Elijah and I stayed up until 3 AM, we enjoyed being the only ones up and had some snuggle time.
I took the rest of my meds before I went to bed. This morning I woke up at 9 in a groggy fog. I have been so groggy all day long. Plus my vision is all blurred today. I even took a 3 hour nap and missed Elijah's return appointment. There was no way I was getting behind the wheel and putting my kids in the van with me and I didn't feel alert enough for Dakota to drive. I'll just have to reschedule his appointment, it is just to release him from this doctor.
Saying all this to ask for prayer that these new meds will work for me. I'm sure the groggy feeling will pass after I get used to taking them. Also pray that Elijah will be able to start taking in more formula. I think he is back to his reguar self now, good days and bad days. I'd like to see more good days than bad.
Thanks for the prayers.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Jody works weekends, so weekends are normal school days for us. We like to take off and do stuff with daddy when he is off work on Tuesday. EVEN if it is just sit around and veg all day watching movie or TV. It's his ONE day off so we follow his lead. If he wants to head out to the movies, go fishing or just rest, we do whatever he feels like doing. We also like to take off from school when the weather is nice.
Okay don't let me fool you. We don't have a set schedule of when we do school and when we don't. We kind of school year round and take off anytime we want to for any reason we can think of. I feel if we do 15 days a month year round we've made our 180 days. I'm really sure we do more than 180 days because as a family we do so much educational stuff even when we are not calling it a school day.
So on to thinking about the new school year. Dakota is a senior this year! How did this happen, wasn't he just in 4 th grade? The saying "They grow up fast" doesn't mean anything until you blink and your baby is a senior and taller than you.
When I think about my last year to homeschool Dakota I get a little sad, but yet, I'm excited for him. I want to make the most of the year. I want him to have a great senior year!
Dakota and I sat down and went over his high school years, laid out all the classes he has taken and decided on what classes he will take this year.
At home he will take:
At co-op he will take:
Business Applications (the class is called Real Life, but for our transcript we will call it Business Applications)
Journalism (this will be part of his English)
Oil Painting (he doesn't need another art credit so we most likely won't count it)
He is also teaching a computer class at co-op. This will be his second year to teach this class.
I also want him working on bringing up his ACT score. His math score is the lowest and brings down his overall score. His score is still good enough to get in college, but we really need TOPS and the better the score the more TOPS will provide. So he has some ACT prep books and I got him the Life Of Fred Algebra books to work through in hopes that a better understanding of Algebra will do the trick.
Dakota is also in our homeschool choir.
How does that sound for a senior year? Can I just fail him for the year and keep him another year?
Now Elijah. If you dig around on here you will find a post about him starting 3rd grade last year.
I changed my mind. Actually I really felt the Lord leading me to hold him back. I don't really know why, he is pretty good at math, he is now reading very well and he knows tons of information that most adults don't know, so why hold him back? I've struggled with this feeling all year, I feel lead to do this, but yet I just wasn't sure why I felt this way all of a sudden. Could it be that Elijah is sick a lot and just deals with a lot of pain and medical stuff that most kids don't have to deal with. He has spent a lot of time in hospitals and even times when he needed to be in the hospital but we were able to nurse him at home on the couch. We have really done some school and he could go on up to the 4th grade, but I really feel Jesus is speaking to me to do this and it may not have anything to do with right now, but more to do with later in life. So I finally said "Okay he is now starting 3rd grade" and I feel so much peace about that.
3rd/4th grade is where I start to bump up the academic learning. Before now it's been mostly about character training. I feel character training is VERY important. I want my kids to know how to act in pubic and how to respect others and us as parents. I am very please how Elijah (and Dakota) act in public, they are very respectful to others. They have good self control, they always sit quietly and wait. They know I do not allow them to beg or ask the same question over and over or interrupt me when I'm talking to someone, saying "let's go". We did have a spell this past year where Elijah started to pick up some bad habits of some of his friends. I put a stop to this right away and he now understands he is not allowed to disrespect me even if his friends are allowed to disrespect their moms. So anyway I feel like I have done my job in character training so it is time to focus on academics. I will continue with character training as I see needed and I'm sure it will be needed in the future!
Now it's time to focus on 3rd grade and academics. I haven't sat down and made any plans, but I know we will notebook and do some lapbooking. Elijah has way too many notebooks that he likes to work in at different times. These notebooks are not meant to be completed in a years time. I want them to last him all of his elementary years. When he hits middle school he will start new notebooks.
I plan for Elijah and I to work on calendar stuff, math and spelling/reading everyday that we do school. Then we divided out his notebooks into weeks and we plan to rotate the weeks. When we finish week 4 he'll start week 1 no matter where in the month we are, so this not by the weeks in a month. If we take off a week, he'll just start the next week when we start back.
Here is a list of his notebook rotation:
Earth and Space
I know that looks like a lot, but really it's not. He can work in these notebooks a little or as much as he wants to. If he doesn't get to a notebook that week, it's fine he can get to it when that week rolls around again. Like I said above, these notebooks are to last until middle school so he has 3 or 4 years to work on them. We are really laid back relaxed homeschoolers.
We have a list of some fun units we want to do this year. Some of them are left over from the summer since he was sick a lot and we didn't get to work on them.
Many FIAR books
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Dr. Seuss (okay this one is for me, Elijah will think he is too old for this!)
I'm sure many more units will creep up as we follow bunny trails and enjoy learning at a relaxed speed.
We will also still be using our workbox system and adding some fun games or projects into our days. Over the summer I have collected some great hands on activities for the boxes.
My main goal for Elijah this year is to just bump up what I expect form him. Work on writing and adding to stories to stretch his writing abilities. Keep him reading so he is reading more fluently and hopefully start to enjoy reading. He does not enjoy it so it is such a chore for him to read. It's almost like punishment. (Very different from Dakota who I have to take books from so he will do something else. LOL) I also plan to do activities that promote living math using games and hands on activities, that use thinking skills. If these three things are accomplished I will be a happy homeschool mom.
At co-op Elijah will take:
Considering God's Creation
FIAR Vol 4
Arts N Crafts
I think Elijah and I will have a great 3rd grade year! Like I said, I haven't wrote out lesson plans, because that's not my style, we will follow his lead and enjoy the adventure.
I'm looking forward to school this year. I plan for Elijah, Dakota and I to start at the dinning table each morning with Table Time. (I'll post again and share my Table Time plans.) Then move to the school room or other rooms of the house to work carry on with our school day.
Do you blog and have you posted plans for your new school year? Leave me a comment with a link, I'd love to check out your blog.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Before the big co-op started there were many small co-ops going on each year, but they were not open to CHA. You could only be in those co-ops if you were invited. Now we have the big co-op and ALL of CHA is welcome to join. We were in several small co-ops in the past, but it is hard to be in different co-ops for your kids when you have big age gaps. My kids are 8 years apart. So I would take Dakota to one co-op and Elijah to another and they weren’t on the same days so that meant going out several days. Having a CHA wide co-op is so much better. It brings us all together and no one is excluded.
We have a bunch of great moms who offer all sorts of classes. My kids have taken a long list of classes that I don’t think we would have gotten around to at home. Dakota has taken Dave Ramsey Financial Peace, guitar, art, biology, chemistry, IEW, Jensen’s Format Writing, photography, US Gov, physical science and more that I can’t think of right now. Elijah has taken some great classes too, all about ponds, famous Americans, science centers, presidents, 50 states, art, guitar, piano, math games, and science experiments and again I can’t think of all the classes. Below are a bunch of pics from various classes.
This year Dakota will be taking journalism, real life, and oil painting. He will be teaching a computer class for the second year.. Elijah will take 50 states, considering God’s creation, FIAR volume 4, endangered animals, arts and crafts and art.
I’ll be teaching 50 states, journalism, FIAR, and Soda Bottle Science. Now it’s time to get busy and plan those classes. My friend Alana and I are doing FIAR together so we have planned out which books and what we want to cover; now we just need to collect stuff to make those classes happen.
If your homeschool group doesn't have a co-op, you might want to consider starting one.
Dakota made our co-op website and then added to it so all of our homeschool group is online with the website.
You can check out our website to see how our co-op runs.
This is Elijah and a friend in science class working on animal classification.
Elijah in an art class.
Elijah on the left end. This was from Presidents class.
Elijah being a meteorologist in science class.
Elijah and friends in board games class.
Dakota and his art teacher.
Dakota teaching his computer class.
Elijah in math games.
Jody taught in co-op before his schedule changed. This is a picture from his science experiment class.
Dakota in art class.
Don't you think this is a cute bunch of kids?
The sight word class had a wedding for Q & U. Elijah was not happy about being in that wedding.
Dakota in a math lab.
Elijah in an art class.
If there's a bug, Elijah is going to find it.
Dakota in a science class. Coke and mentos!
Jody teaching a class.
Elijah and friends hanging out around the big tree at co-op.
You can see we have lots of FUN at co-op. We are having registration this month and it closes on the 21st. Co-op starts September 10th so we will be back with our friends having fun in no time. We are looking forward to starting.
Friday, August 7, 2009
I had collected a few craft kits and such for him to enjoy while laying around and recovering, but he has been to sick to even think about anything like that. Now that he is feeling better I will pull those out and see what he can create.
He slept until 2:30 today, I guess he needs the rest.
Thanks to everyone for the prayers for our sweet boy.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
I took him to the doctor on Monday and he said Elijah was sick throwing up because he's not drinking enough. First off I'm not sure how not drinking enough makes you throw up. Actually he's probably throwing up more because we are pushing the fluids. Since Elijah came home last Tuesday he has had a glass of water sitting next to him at all times. He's had popsicles, shaved ice and Italian Ice almost one right after another. We refill his glass of ice water all day long. I tried to explain to the doctor that he has something all day long, he said it's not enough.
He gave us another prescription for the Phenergan to rub on his wrist and that has helped. Elijah feels much better when he is not throwing up.
It's been a full week now so I'm really expecting him to turn the corner for good soon and not look back. He is having periods where he feels better, we just need these periods to stretch into full days.
Any time Elijah is sick it takes him way longer to recover than most kids. He is a special case. He can't take meds through the gut. Once he is having a flare and throwing up the only thing that helps is complete bowel rest and only getting IV. He has been in the hospital many many times like this. But this doctor doesn't know anything about Elijah and can't understand what a special case he is.
I really do regret having the surgery done. I should have listened to the first ENT. Actually I did, but his doctor insisted we had to have this done and sent us to another ENT. This has been a horrible experience.
Thanks for praying for my sweet boy. I feel like I have caused him all this pain.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
I can't imagine how painful that has got to be to throw and having surgery wounds in your throat.
Anyway today he has felt bad and been whinny all day. I do understand he will feel bad, it's just the throwing up and not being able to do anything for his pain that kills me.
When Jody woke up today I left Elijah here on the couch watching TV with him so Dakota and I could run grab some groceries and household stuff from Wal-Mart. I'd rather do anything than go to Wal-Mart on a Saturday, but it had to be done.
Praying tomorrow will be better.