Friday, March 14, 2014

"A" for apple week

This is how the chalkboard looked at the end of this week  It will stay like this for a bit longer and hopefully when I hit "B" week I'll change the chalkboard closer to the beginning of the time instead of the end.
My plan was to leave up the letters from kindergarten as our frame.  That's a plan right?  NOT taking something down?   I was encouraged to hear my mother-in-law (who is a teacher) tell me that the first three years are teaching the same stuff anyway.  First is introduction, then the next year is actually learning it, and the third year is maintaining it.  Now, if you are like me you might think.. why not skip the first two years and just learn it in the third?  And there would enter perhaps some of the arguments and evidence for later school start times.  Anyway, I digress. 
 I do really have a plan.... it's just not really planned too far ahead of time.   Generally I lose sleep by planning mainly just in my head.  Night time is the only moments of "space" where I have time to really think and get creative.  It's really annoying because I'd much rather be sleeping.  Last night I realized just how close "B" week is coming up and ordered a live butterfly garden kid through Amazon and a Fancy Nancy book.  Which just goes to show that you shouldn't stay up late with brilliant ideas and spontaneously spend money.  (It's okay, I'd rather buy school things than birthday decorations for myself anyway.) 
The little one posing by some library books and my calendar/schedule book that I only can seem to use about 1/4 of the time.... if that.
 Here's some more of my plan.  We go to the library almost every week and get movies or books or whatever and when I know a subject is coming up I like to grab a bunch of books that relate to that subject.  So, I'd planned on doing "A for apple" week again and got some books on trees, apples, seeds, Johnny Appleseed (big hit that one) and a book about John Newton and his life before writing the hymn "Amazing Grace" (which starts with an "A" so we might as well throw that one in too.) 
Pie cookies are always a big hit
Random moment from the other day.  The two oldest ones were wrestling and pushing each other off the chair. (no one was hurt in the picture taking of this picture) and the littlest one who isn't old enough to get "Wii credits" ran for a full TEN minutes and then did some other Wii fit games!  I was impressed at her desire to keep at it!
 I did most of the baking alone with just the occasional taste tester.  The girls were too excited about going outside and enjoying the weather and roller skates to want to help me in the kitchen.  Which was actually totally fine with me!
The middle one got roller skates for her birthday!  They have been outside a LOT these days and I figure it's a good thing to do so before it's so hot that we are all stuck inside in the middle of the day again (I take them out then to swim at night, but they can't stand being out in the day.. even in the morning.)  I wish they could spend more time outside!
 I did not plan on making an apple pie at all until we were reading one of their books and saw the character make an apple pie and I suddenly just felt like making one.  I wouldn't have planned this and would have been overwhelmed if I'd planned ahead of time to make an apple pie.
In case anyone has to be gluten free like us and wants a good pie crust recipe this one is fabulous.. though it's just a mix!  Pamela's Bread mix is what we use and on the back it will have directions for making a pie crust with the bread mix.

 I set the girls up with some play dough to make their own "pies" and my oldest got all excited about the idea that we could make a peach pie when we get to the letter "P" and had fun making up lots of other yummy and/or yucky sounding pies according to what might match a letter.  The next day when the pie was gone and my husband saw the empty dish when he got home he said, "NOOOOOOoooo!  When is 'P' week coming for Pecan and Peach pies?"
I think the "rainbow pie" is quite pretty.
 We cut dixie cups for the pie pans in case anyone is wanting to try this at home.

I still haven't finished reading all the library books on trees that I got, but it would have been too boring to read them all together (I sprinkled them through our usual story reading.)  The girls aren't always interested in every book, but I never know what is sinking in or not and one girl might like a story more than the other so usually it's interesting to someone.  I'm pretty certain that if my oldest was at a public school she'd either be extremely depressed in her compliance or (if she acts like she does at home) would be told that she needs medication to help her sit still.  I let them put puzzles together or build towers or play with silly putty, and (often) have to remind them to not talk unless it's asking questions about the book we are reading.

The girls did a little "A" letter search in a poem from one of our books and they had fun drawing pictures that related to the letter "a" as I was working on the chalk board.  For the most part they are the most engaged and ready to learn when they are just observing what I do and want to do it too!

All three girls have their own little chalk boards as well that they had fun drawing on.  I wasn't sure what to do really and just started doing a tree.  Then my oldest said I should draw Johnny Appleseed under the tree (definitely the favorite story from this week!) and so I sort of copied how he looked from the book we had about him.  (Note, the "marshmallow math" hanging to the right of the chalk board that I talked of in the last post?)

LOVE these books!  I have almost half of them now and want to get them all because they are so fun and perfect for our letter themed weeks that work for all the ages of my girls.  At the end of each book they have some real facts about the featured animal and some games and things to play using the letter of the book.

This particular book had a word making game with cups.  The short "a" lesson turned into a silent "e" lesson from how the girls were asking questions.  We just go with it and work as long as they want.  I can sense pretty easily these days when their interest is waning.

 The book inspired some balancing acts of their own, and this is about when I stepped away from school for the day and am letting them play with the cups all afternoon.
The little one even tried a balancing act!  My middle child dissolved into tears because the first time she tried to balance the cups they fell over and was not consoled when I mentioned how long it took Alexander in the book to learn how to do it.  I only mention that bit so you realize that homeschooling is not all shiny like the pictures on blogs show.  I didn't particularly want to take a picture of her laying on the floor upset.

 It didn't take the middle one too long to recover.  This was after she'd had some time upstairs by herself at her own choice, and they are all still playing with the cups while we watch the old "Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe" movie.  We've been reading the "Narnia" books before bed for quite a while now and I thought it would be fun to watch and compare the movies.
On another day, when I was taking a shower, my oldest wrote the word "Frosn" (for Frozen) on the steamy mirror and I wanted to post about this because it's a good example of how something popular can inspire learning.  We've been enjoying the "Frozen" songs ever since we saw it in the theater at Christmas time.  Can't wait to own the dvd!
You might be wondering how the picture above fits in with this post, and you might want to point out that she spelled the word wrong anyway.   I of course know that, but that is entirely beside the point.  This word written on the mirror is a glimmer of how far we've come in a year.  NOT because of how she spells (and no, I didn't say anything,) but because she actually wanted to write this all on her own without any prompting or coercion from me.  I feel like this last year of laying off the reading and writing intensity has helped her come back from the land of "I hate this" to the land of interest again.  My goal in teaching my girls is to inspire them and help them WANT to learn.  It's definitely not about perfection, grammar rules, and memorizing facts for us at this age.  We will memorize facts when we need to and grammar rules on occasion, but it will never be ABOUT that.  Perfection is never possible anyway, so I'm throwing that totally out.  We strive for excellence yes, but excellence to us is using our imaginations and being interested in the world and stories around us.

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