Sunday, December 29, 2013

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Once again, as winter so often does to many of us homeschooling Mamas, I find myself evaluating how the school year is going, wishing it were going better and finding ways to make it better for the spring.  This year I'm not changing much, just adding in Five in a Row to give us a little bit of a direction.  I'm super excited and so are the boys.  I found a great deal on Volumes 1 & 2, and the Bible Supplement along with 19 of the books from another homeschooling mom.  I ordered the download of the Notebook Builder and also signed up for the blog emails so that I could get the Fold n Learns for FREE!  I've already planned out our first week and I'm working on getting our Montessori lessons together to go with it.

We will be rowing Robert Frost's Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening our first week.
This unit is found in Volume 1 of Five in a Row.  

    With this unit, we will have 4 vocabulary words:  Evening, Village, Queer (the real definition, not the slang) and Downy.  We'll be learning a little about Robert Frost, using a Notebook page as our research guide, and reading a few other poems by him.  My favorite is The Road Not Taken, it's kinda a sum of my life!  I'll be introducing my kids to alliteration and poetry.  A few years ago I was given an old set of Childcraft books so we will be using the poetry volume to read other poems through out the week.  We will also be reading other books that we have that relate to snow and winter.  I'll have to post a list of those as I dig through our books to pull them out.  

    For Math, we will be learning about temperature and discussing hotter/colder than.  We will be doing this unit while on vacation in the mountains (we rarely have snow in Louisiana so this unit goes perfectly with our vacation) so we will not be taking our Shiller with us.  We will also throw in a tad bit of geography talking about the equator and how temperature changes the closer/farther you get to/from it.  For science we will do an experiment about the states of matter, Animal Tracks nomenclature cards, What to Wear file folder game, reading the book Snow to learn more about where snow comes from, and also recording the temperature each day to compare when we get home.

    One thing I love about the planning page that I found is that it includes Music, Gym and Cooking.  I don't have any specific music for this unit but if you know of anything that would work, please leave a comment.  I'm really excited about our Gym plans though.  Building a snowman, having a snowball fight and making snow angels.  If it doesn't snow at our cabin while we are there, we'll just go to the nearby ski resort and play in their snow.  We also have some great cooking plans.  Snow ice cream and snow cones.  Yummy!  

     We will be coloring in the state we visit on our map of the US, listing the character traits from our Bible lesson on the character traits Notebook page and also filling out a Field Trip report from the Notebook Builder.  I can't stress enough how great the Notebook Builder is.  It is so full of graphic organizers, report pages, etc.  Well worth the $24 for this download.  I decided to print it out completely and put into a binder.  This makes it easy to plan and make copies to put into my planning binder.  I made the copies that I need for this unit and put them behind my planning page so that when we need that page, it is easy to access.  I will also be including a list of the hands-on activities that we will be using, with instructions and recipes that we will be doing.  If you would like to see a copy of my planning sheet, you can download it here.  

   I will update this post as I go through our other books this week and post a list of related books that we will be using.  Be sure to check back for photos from the week.  It is my hopes that by eliminating several of our weekly activities that occur during the day, I will be able to homeschool much more consistently and also blog about our experiences.  

***UPDATE***

Additional books about snow/winter/poems that will be available for free-reading time during the next few weeks.  Some are story books set in winter, some are books about snow, some are poems or poetry.  Other books may be added to the bin once I plan for Snowflake Bentley and Owl Moon.  Only the books specifically about snow/winter will stay in the Winter Bin when we finish the unit.  I will note those with a *.  

Hickory Dickory Dock By Annie Simpson
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star By Kate Toms 
The Magic School Bus Wet All Over By Joanna Cole
Baby's Book of Rhymes by Lesley Harker
Poems and Rhymes, a Childcraft book
Wild Weather Around the World by Tori Kosara
Shout!  Little Poems that Roar by Brod Bagert
*Hidden In The Snow by Barbara Taylor
*There Was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow by Lucille Colandro
*Snow by Marion Dane Bauer
*Bear's Very Snowy Day by Victoria Ball
*Snow Bear by Jean Craighead George
*Copy Me, Copycub by Richard Edwards
*Where Snowflakes Fall by Claire Freedman
*The Mitten by Jan Brett
*Ridiculous! by Michael Coleman
*An Orange in January by Dianna Hutts Aston
*All You Need for a Snowman by Alice Schertle
*Sunshine and Snowballs by Margaret Wise Brown
*Say Hello to the Snowy Animals by Ian Whybrow

Helpful Links:

Biography of Robert Frost with a video:  http://www.biography.com/people/robert-frost-20796091






Thursday, December 19, 2013

Classroom Cleanup and Reorganization

This school year has been a rough one for our family.  We've had foster family visits twice a week, 3 therapy appointments each week, co-op once a week, quite a few court dates, a few extra kiddos for a few days here and there, and a few viruses too.  We've done the bare minimum this school year.  We've done lots of school in the van while driving down the road.  Working on multiplication facts with one and addition and subtraction with the other.  Even with the rough start, I'd say my kids are actually doing great.  They are both still ahead in math, self driven in science, social studies and art, and Elijah is reading beautifully now.  Levi is still learning letter sounds following Getting Ready for the Code and I think as soon as vowel sounds are taught, he will pick up reading in no time.  I wish that I had introduced his letter sounds to him vowels first but lesson learned!

In the midst of all the crazy scheduling, I was having some trouble keeping our classroom clean and organized.  All of our math lessons were together, no matter what age level they were for.  Language Arts the same.  Sensorial the same.  The two toddlers were enjoying their work but the youngest is still unable to put her work away on her own.  That trickled up and no one was putting anything away, even me some days!  Levi has referred to his space as his office since I found his desk at a consignment sale so I decided to take that concept and run with it.  I separated our classroom into offices for me, Elijah, Levi and the oldest toddler.  We have a door between the classroom and the nursery so the youngest can play in there with the baby gate between the two rooms.  Everyone can now work without their work being destroyed by the baby and everyone is once again returning their work to their shelves.  The toddler isn't messing with the work on Elijah and Levi's shelves because he's so happy to have his own work.

Each of them have age appropriate work on their shelves and I have a language arts shelf, as well as a math and sensorial shelf in the center of the room.  As they are ready for a lesson from that shelf, I can move it to their shelves until they no longer need it.  We also still share the art shelf and many materials are available for them to use as they want.  It still needs a bit of work to get the shelves in order but overall, I'm happy with the changes.  Maybe I'll post pictures as I organize the shelves a bit more.  I may even try to weed some things out that I feel we don't need anymore.  It's so hard to do this though with Levi just starting K this year.  The things that didn't work for Elijah may actually work for him.  I may just have to hang on to these materials until I've raised all my kiddos, because you just never know when you might need it.  Yes, I know, I'm a hoarder!

We are making some other changes beginning in January that should allow us to have a much better 2nd semester and also allow me to blog more.  I'd like to start doing a daily or weekly recap and using this as my outlet more so than Facebook.  Being at home all day with young children can be a little isolating.  It's hard to talk on the phone because it's always loud.  I probably annoy my friends on Facebook with my posts about how awesome my kids are and how wonderful or horrible our school day has gone.  Well, I'm about to head to bed.  The kids will be up soon.  LOL!  Good night!  ~Audrey
Elijah decided to build a zoo in the middle of trying to organize the room.  Notice how his zoo completely sectioned off his area?

The toddler is doing a lesson that I've had packed up for a while and decided to bring back out.  He was unable to do this lesson when I packed it up in the summer but can now do it with ease.  Elijah and Levi were enjoying digging through some boxes of coloring books that have been packed up for a while too.  

Levi got excited over a new lesson that I placed on his shelf and jumped right into working on it, skipping over using a work rug.  

The view from the south side of the room.

My office.

The view of the south side of the room.

View from the northwest doorway before we had completed the room.

View of the north-east side of the room.  Our Language Arts shelf and Elijah's office. 

South east corner.  

Finished view from the North East corner of the room.  

Toddler work space.  This is the west wall.

This is the view that you see as you walk up the stairs in my hallway.  It makes me happy to see such a beautiful classroom.  I feel very blessed and fortunate to have a husband that fully believes in me as a teacher for my children and fully supports my desire to have a beautiful and inviting learning environment for them.  

The view from the South West corner of the room.  

This is Levi's office.  

Math shelf that needs a bit of organization.

Sensorial shelf that needs a bit of help.  There are some math materials on this side as well. 

This shelf houses our turtle cage as well as our botany cabinet and unit study library.  The unit currently available is Birds.  We have not begun this study yet, though I've been ready since May.  I plan to do this study in January and study Winter birds.

A closer view of the toddler office.  

A closer view of Elijah's office.