I hope you are all well and have gotten started with the new school year! I know we have. Some people from back home (Kansas) are surprised that we have started already, but truth be told, for our area (Tennessee) we are right on time. I have several public school teachers who have been in the office for over a week now. Whether you are connected to public or home education, it’s been on everyone’s mind for several weeks already. The only difference is the preparations we took in anticipation for the first day.
For us, we had to get our classroom ready! This is my favorite part…usually. This summer we used the school room for the landing place for our donations we received to sell on the 50 cent auction group on facebook that we belong to. Getting ready this year meant purging everything but the desks and bookcases. To be honest we hadn’t even taken down last year’s activities off of the walls from last year so those had to come down too. Last year’s curriculum was boxed up and put up in the attic. I purged every single piece of paper we wrote on last year, just in case someone questioned my children’s education. See we were flagged at the beginning of the year because our registration with our umbrella wasn’t completed correctly so I was fearful that someone would want to see verification at the end of the year of what we had completed. Anyway, after I vacuumed the carpet I began to move things in one by one. Once things were put where I wanted them, the fun part started! Decorating!
The wall that the boys’ desk sits against is our writing wall. Last year, we focused strongly on math. This year we will be stressing language arts big time. That was the inspiration for this wall:
Our door reflects our classroom theme as well:
Our shelving for our curriculum and assignments:
I love these shelves. They were given to us last year from a gas station vendor. They held boxes of candy and tobacco products I think. They have been transformed and now help to shape young minds. The shelf on the left has a turn in bin on each shelf on the left and an open space on the right. That space is for supplies needed to complete assignments in those subjects. The shelf on the right is where I keep the boy’s curriculum. Each shelf is labeled so they know exactly where to put and find their books.
Next is the closet in the room where we have school. It holds our school supplies:
Clipboards, lined paper, paints, crayons, colored pencils, glue, scissors, miscellaneous art supplies and borrowed curriculum (that I have GOT to get back to the Lombards…STAT). It all fits there, in the closet where it can be closed up when it needs to be hidden. There’s plenty of room to welcome more supplies if we need them. The painting on the wall was done by Jackson last year using mixed media. He really loves art. He reminds me of his Aunt Carrie, big time.
On Saturday, we punched hours for the first time this year. The boys went to an etiquette class lead by a co-missionary, also former Miss South Carolina, where they learned everything from how to set a table to how to walk up and down stairs. She is really talented in teaching the kids. I can’t tell you how many times the boys have said, “Mrs. Kelly said _____ at manors camp.” or “Mr. Scott showed us how to _____ at manors camp.” They really absorbed a bunch of it.
Monday was our first day in the classroom.
They were really excited to see what our new curriculum was all about so we jumped in with two feet! Last year I was piecing together our lessons from various different books and other resources. This year we are using Prairie Primer:
It is a unit study based on the Little House books. It may seem an odd choice by a mom of three boys but it is really amazing! There are things I don’t care for with the actual Ingalls family but in this series, there are strong examples of how children should be raise/behave, positive father figures, strong work ethic, the family structure and reliance on God. I am pleased with diverse study topics, experiments and outing suggestions. You will see as the year goes what all it includes. We will be focusing on literature and language arts this year so this is perfect for us. Suggested grades for this curriculum covers 3rd – 6th so it’s perfect for us.
My husband requested that we do American history this year. I found “America the Beautiful” by Notgrass. We haven’t gotten it in yet but I am really excited about it as well. This curriculum has several novels to be read through the year as well which will only support our desire to have literature at the forefront of our year. This is a curriculum specifically made for grades
We will be using Math-U-See for both boys. Jackson is on Epsilon (Fractions) and Gage is on Gamma (Multiplication). This curriculum focuses on mastery verses just going through the motions and processes and moving on. Jackson will actually be moving on to Zeta before the year is over as he only has 15 of the 30 lessons to go before he’s done with this curriculum.
So without further delay, let’s see what we’ve been up to this week! This isn’t all we’ve done but it’s a little bit of a peek into our daily activities.
The Primer tells us to have the kids write words they either don’t know the definition or how to spell on an index card. Those become their vocabulary words and spelling words for the week. Last year we did AVKO Sequential Spelling but honestly I am not seeing any long term success with it so, we are going to try a different approach. We’ll see how it works. At any rate, here’s the boys getting their index card boxes ready.
We grabbed index card dividers so they could alphabetize their cards as the year goes on. During the week we will put the cards in front of the “A” tab so we can practice them over and over during the week, using them in writing exercises, using them in spoken conversation, etc.
This is Tuesday when they were taking their chapter two review. Each day we read one chapter of the book we are in. Naturally we started with the first book of the series: “Little House in the Big Woods.” They did pretty good with their review but did have to make some corrections. I like the review section because it forces them to LISTEN when I read. Oh that’s another thing, I read the Little House book to them. Studies have shown that being read to throughout childhood it actually increases brain function, memory, vocabulary and so many other things. They have plenty of other books to read on their own, both to themselves and aloud.
We had the chance to spend some time in the kitchen Tuesday, also! The boys had the chance to try cracklings.
Later that evening, we made homemade butter and buttermilk.
Earlier in the day, Jackson took his knowledge that he learned in Epsilon and converted the measurements in our recipe for Cracklings Cornbread down to 1/4 of the size so we could make a smaller pan to go with the pinto beans we had for dinner.
We learned that when Ma would have been baking this, she wouldn’t have used baking powder or baking soda because it didn’t exist at that point. So…we left it out to see how it would work. Success! All of us tried it. It’s funny because those who liked the cracklings didn’t care for the cornbread with them in it, and vice versa. Hummm…
On Wednesday, we went over lots of firearm safety, history, mechanics there of and the differences between different types of firearms. One thing I love about home education is the flexibility to have a variety of topics expanded on and the ability to have both parents as active rolls in teaching.
We re-read a section of the book where Laura tells what she thinks Jack Frost looks like. The boys were to learn the difference between descriptive writing and just blah writing. Here’s what Jackson thought Jack Frost was described as:
Gage did that assignment, too, but he also researched brindle bulldogs, which is the type of dog the Ingalls owned in the book. He found a picture and redrew Jack.
Thursday (the day which I find myself typing this blog) was a day I thought would never end to be honest. It’s only because I second guess myself when it comes to teaching language arts. Our first assignment (from Tuesday) was to have the boys think of their favorite chore. They were then supposed to write a descriptive paragraph about the process it takes to complete that chore. Here is Gage writing out his rough draft:
For today they had to take that same piece and modify two sentences to reflect similes. They did it pretty well but I will obviously have to touch on that further.
This evening, we got to get back in the kitchen to prepare a meal made with venison. Thanks to a really amazing family we are friends with, we were able to score two pounds of deer sausage to make spaghetti with. It was SOOOOOOOOooooo good!
We also started a science experiment on the rate of digestion. We were either to eat something with corn, sesame seeds or highly dyed food and chart how many days and hours it takes from the time it is ingested to the time it passes from your body. Since I have been making cakes this week, I had left over buttercream frosting we opted for a highly dyed food. Here’s the boys preparing their experiment supplies:
They were then to ingest all 1/3 cup of frosting at once:
Here’s out make shift observation sheet. I didn’t plan that one ahead so it really doesn’t have a very good flow to it, but it will work for the time being.
Apparently if you have an organic and balanced diet, what you take in should pass within 24-30 hours. If you consume processed foods and unhealthy diet, your food will process in 70-80 hours. I fear we may be in the later classification. 😦 At any rate, it will be a fun experiment for the boys.
Tomorrow is catch up day. Anything we don’t get finished in the four scheduled days we can work on on the fifth day. Chances are, that’s the day I will probably take enrichment trips. Next week we will be going to Old Stone Fort National Park to attend a program on tracing animals. The week after that we will be milking cows or goats and making cheese of the spoils of our labor. Hahaha…no pun intended! We will hopefully going to a walk through museum about a half hour from here which holds most of the original buildings of the town which date back to the 1830-1930s which is smack dab in the middle of the time period of this book (1870+). How fun is that! Let’s make education come alive people!
Anyway I’m tired. I will talk at you all more next week. Thanks for tuning in!