29 August 2009

Preschoolers and Homeschooling: My Secret Revealed

I have 3 children, ages 6, 3, and 19 months. I homeschool my oldest who is in first grade. So what do I do with the other two?

Here's my secret: they sleep.

Napping outside at Sequoia National Park
We don't do school in the morning. We'll read stories or do field trips, library trips, co-ops, nature walks, and other assorted activities in the mornings. But we really don't crack open any "schoolbooks" until 1:30. That's the magic hour. That is naptime.

And school time.

Last year I told myself she was doing "half-day" kindergarten. Well that schedule has been working out so far for us this year, too.

Did I mention my kids are great sleepers? They are amazing sleepers. They don't take piddly little naps. Oh, no. It's 2.5 to 3 hours just about every day. You can get a lot done in 2.5 to 3 hours.

I actually have a whole box of activities for my 3-year old to do while we're doing school, but she never gets to use them because she sleeps through it all. It makes her sad, but I'm okay with that. She'll stop napping soon enough.

But for now, I heart nap time.

28 August 2009

First week in review

Our first day of school was Monday which began with some vomiting so I knew then that we were in for a great year! (Read with sarcastic voice.) It actually wasn't that bad, since we don't begin school until the afternoon. She was actually cured and ready to go by then, thankfully.

Look at these kids and their backpacks. You'd think they were actually going somewhere!

We jumped right into The Story of the World with a little archaelogical dig on Tuesday.
Tuesday we went to a park with empty, wide, flat sidewalks to practice riding bikes without training wheels if you're 6, or with training wheels if you're 3. Gracie also started memorizing "The Caterpillar," an assignment from First Language Lessons.

On Wednesday we read One Small Blue Bead and tried a new reading program at library for elementary-aged kids which had a whopping three attendees, including Gracie.

Thursdays are planned to be our "unschooling" day where we focus more on non-core subjects and educational projects. We met Gracie's teacher that we'll be meeting with once a month. We started our six-week long composer study (J.S. Bach) and artist study (Piet Mondrian).

Gracie got to do some handicrafts when she made a simple game bag for those nomad hunting excursions. She used my sewing machine for the first time. Can you tell she's proud?

Friday included a field trip to museum for some bear research.
While we're waiting for our science curriculum Gracie's been working on a lapbook on bears inspired by our camping trip to Sequoia National Park last week.
A big disappointment was no nature study this week due to wildfires, smoky air, and 100+ degree temperatures. We'll just have to double up next week!
Check out what else went on this week at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

27 August 2009

Trying to be Twaddle-free

Last week when we were camping I began reading a new chapter book to the girls. It had been a while, so I thought that with the school year starting soon it would be a good time to pick one up again.

I began reading The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham to them, which I myself hadn't read, but it has animal characters and takes place in a lovely countryside. There's even a Disney ride inspired by it. So it should be great for my 6 and 3 year old, right?

Well, two weeks and much struggling and suffering later, I finally looked up the reading level.

Seventh grade!

Yikes, no wonder they couldn't follow it.

I do know that a child's listening and comprehension level is above their reading level, but a 7th grade book to a first grader is definitely more than we are able or willing to tackle. And this is definitely a tough one.

I know it's on this list and this list for second grade, and I realize that we're just starting first grade, but seriously? Here's the last sentence of the chapter I read to my girls tonight:

"For others the asperities, the stubborn endurance, or the clash of actual conflict, that went with Nature in the rough; he must be wise, must keep to the pleasant places in which his lines were laid and which held adventure enough, in their way, to last a lifetime." I know that this is out of context, but doesn't that seem a little difficult to understand?

Have you read The Wind in the Willows to your young children?

Or am I just a wimp?

Break it to me gently, please.

25 August 2009

And now for something completely different...

I have completed posting all of our theme units we covered during Gracie's kindergarten year. you can find a list of them here. I loved planning theme units and thought it was a very appropriate way to ease into formal education in kindergaten, though I wanted something a bit more structured, chronological, and organized for first grade and beyond.

Therefore, for first grade we are going in a slightly different direction. I will be following the classical education scope and sequence model for history and science using many of Charlotte Mason's methods.

I've done a lot of research and thinking about this and am very excited about the upcoming year. We will still do some unit studies based on what we're studying this year. I've already decided to do a mini-unit on bears inspired by our camping trip last week! So although we may not be theme unit focused, we're still having fun learning and I'll keep you posted along the way!

24 August 2009

Gingerbread Theme Unit

This was the perfect theme to welcome in the holidays! Although I learned that sometimes homeschooling is no different than any other kind of school in that December is a tough time to focus on schoolwork! So our workload was a bit light.

The highlight of and inspiration for our theme was a very cool exhibit on the Science of Gingerbread, which will be happening again this year, too.
We had fun comparing the different versions of the Gingerbread stories.
We also made a simple lapbook with printouts from the Gingerbread Thematic Unit,

smelled some yummy spices,learned a bit about Germany,and of course, we invited friends over to make a gingerbread house, which sadly collapsed before it was ever really finished!

21 August 2009

The Getty

We just managed to sneak in a trip to the Getty museum before the end of summer. I've been there twice before: once before kids and once when my oldest was 9 months old. This time I had all 3 of my munchkins and was amazed at how kid-friendly it was!

We started off by visiting the Family Room which acquainted us with lots of art we would see later in the galleries. Even my 18 month old was able to run around and have fun with the hands-on exhibits!

There we experienced (and rearranged) the art of David Hockney,

made a mask inspired by James Ensor (Belgium's famous painter),

and recreated the sculpture at the Getty's entrance.

Then we picked up these:And went on an art hunt.
Then it was time to run around outside in the gardens!

Our last stop was the sketching room where we made our own art.Looks just like the real thing!

I'm already thinking about a spring trip to the Getty Villa which focuses on the art of ancient Greece and Rome. Perfect way to wrap up our year of ancient history!

19 August 2009

Art in the Park

Last week I planned a preschool art play date for the moms group at my church. It was a lot of fun and wasn't too tough to put together. I made six different stations:

1. Sidewalk chalk

You'll need chalk.

2. Crayon Rubbings

You'll need crayons, paper, and an assortment of objects with interesting textures like leaves, paper clip, and coins.

3. Shaving cream sculpture

This became paint the tree trunk white! You'll need shaving cream and some kind of tub.

4. Suncatcher Collage

You'll need tissue paper squares, clear contact paper squares, and optional glitter. Put a piece of contact paper sticky side up. Put tissue squares on one at a time. Add some glitter and put another piece of contact paper on top.

5. Colored Bubble Art

You'll need bubbles and food coloring, but be careful! Mix at least half a little squeeze bottle of food coloring (the McCormick kind) into a small (3 oz.) bottle of bubbles. When you blow they bubbles, catch them onto white paper and they will splat into a subtle, but beautiful print.

6. Finger paint

You'll need finger paint and paper.

I put up a few sign so people would know where the activities were, but it wasn't absolutely necessary. It was a great way to get together with friends, be creative, and make a mess somewhere other than my house!
Do you ever have art play dates? I'd love to hear about them!

17 August 2009

Colors Theme Unit


Make your own rainbow using the garden hose.
We experimented with color mixing. Add a drop each of two different colors of paint into a ziplock bag and then squished until a new color formed.
We observed the results and wrote a math sentence.

We used our color mixing bags in our first self-created and designed lapbook:

Social Studies:

Colors can be symbolic. Think of some colors that represent different things.

Red, white, and blue = United Stated of America

Red=stop, green=go, yellow=slow.

Green=nature or environment

Also school colors, sports teams, other nations, etc.


Read the story of Noah's Ark in Genesis 6-9.

Memory Verse:

Genesis 9:13


Make a tissue paper rainbow.

Learn about primary colors and look at Piet Mondrian's work. Make your own Mondrian inspired art!

15 August 2009

Lesson Learned

Never ever ever leave food coloring out. Even if it's waaaaay back on the counter. He will get to it. Oh yes he will.

10 August 2009

Tidepools Theme Unit

This was our first on-the-road unit and our first unit with a lapbook. We worked on the lapbook before we went on our trip and it definitely took longer than I expected, but Gracie loved it! So between the lapbook and the field trips we didn't have a lot of time for much else, but I think we covered the topic pretty well!

House for a Hermit Crab Lapbook from Homeschool Share
Field Trips:
Birch Aquarium is a great place to explore sea life in a controlled environment. They have a hands on tidepool full of amazing little creatures. We also enjoyed the huge tank they have that makes you feel like you're underwater.

Bible: Jonah and the whale, of course!

Memory Verse: Psalm 93:4