Friday, January 21, 2011

And the Journey Continues...

Can't believe that it is 2011 already. My how fast time flies. Our days have been full and busy. Lately, we have been homebound by the weather. Too many days inside sometimes gives all of us cabin fever.

Luckily, today the sun came out and gave us the opportunity to get some fresh air and exercise. It was a cold day today but being in the warm sunshine was worth being cold.

The sunshine made me remember a funny song that my son came up with when he was about 2: "Sunshine, sunshine, don't know what to do in the sunshine". Priceless. I love it when they make up little songs or stories.

We have been playing games together. The favorite one right now is UNO. This is a great game to play with younger children because it teaches colors, numbers, and how to follow directions.

Other games we enjoy are alphabet bingo, chutes and ladders, go fish, memory, and hi ho cherrio. Playing games teaches children about taking turns and sportsmanship. I tell them that it doesn't matter about winning (although it is fun to win); it matters that we have fun.

In August I purchased a kindergarten curriculum from Sonlight. My homeschool journey began before the birth of my first child. I began researching and learning about homeschooling and gathering resources. I have a ton of things that I downloaded from other sites and tons of information from some very good blogs, websites, and businesses. When I found Sonlight, I fell in love. I ordered the catalog and poured over the pages. I used the catalog as a guide to check out books from the library. The books are great, the schedule is flexible and Sonlight has done a great job organizing and giving parents help.

One part of their kindergarten curriculum that I LOVE is the science. The books are Usborne science books and are easy to read and have great photos and information. There is a science DVD called Discover and Do that is so good. It is full of experiments and things that you can do with your children. My children LOVE the dvd and watch it over and over. The science guy does the experiment then explains what he did and why.

The other books that my children enjoy are The Boxcar Children (made me cry), The Usborne Internet-linked Children's Encyclopedia, and the 20th Century Children's Book Treasury.

The internet-linked encyclopedia is a cool resource because it takes you to websites to expand the subject that you are exploring. The treasury book is a compilation of children's books, many of which are classics like Where the Wild Things Are, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Engine and many, many more.

We are having a blast exploring and learning.

My children are 6 and 4. This year my focus is going to be on penmanship, reading, math, science, and geography. Once they can read and write, the whole world is at their fingertips.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Scavenger Hunt

Because of the lovely autumn weather, the children, and I played outside. I thought of a great game to play, and it really peaked their interest - a scavenger hunt. I gave them a list of five things (a yellow leaf, a green leaf, a rock, white flowers, and purple flowers). This gave them time to explore and taught them the colors. My oldest took a pen and list and checked the things off as they found them. This also gave them an opportunity to work together (which is something that they need to learn).

I wasn't sure what to expect but they found the five items quickly and wanted to play again. I gave them a new list and they went off exploring again. The value in this game is that it engages them and they have a purpose to explore.

I also thought that this would be a cool way to share numbers and the alphabet. You could give them items that begin with A, B, C, D, E, etc. and give them different numbers of items to find like one acorn, two leaves, or three sticks. The possibilities are endless. I'm already looking forward to our next game.

Another thing that I did was give them a small container to put their treasures in. They liked the treasures so much that they brought them in with them.

We will play this again at the park and other places to see what else we can find! If you have any other ideas, please share them with me.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Picky Eater

I have been blessed (at times it feels like a curse) with a very, very picky eater. Now when I tell you that this child would eat anything that was given to him as a baby it is the truth; however not anymore at about three years of age, J.W. decided that he didn't like green beans; this coming from a child who ate green beans all the time...thus started the three year battle over food. And when I say battle, that's what I mean. What started with an adversion to green beans grew into a full blown food fight. No longer does my son like any green vegetables; don't dare serve him a casserole. It has been one trial after another.

I have gotten very creative with meals. This post is to share one of the recipes that came out of the battle. I may have lost some of the battles but I have not lost the war. I'm constantly coming up with ways to get my child to eat.

This recipe came to me one morning as I was pondering the previous day's battles and came up with a great idea. My son loves rice so I thought why not cook his rice with broth instead of water. So off to the store to buy organic chicken broth and organic vegetable broth. Here's the recipe that came out of that experiment.

Chicken Rice

2 cups uncooked, long grained rice (can use brown rice)
2 cups organic vegetable broth
2 cups organic chicken broth
1/2 to 1 cup water

Put rice in pan and add both broths and water. Do not add extra salt. Cook rice according to package directions. When finished you will have a rice that is full of good, nutritious vitamins and minerals. Serve with chicken or other main course. Season to taste: add salt and pepper to taste. Optional season with your favorite spices: I used garlic powder and onion powder. My son likes Slap Ya Mama seasoning and a pat of butter.

(Note: I use organic broth because of the health benefits. I am a huge proponent of organic products.)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It's been a while...

This blog was supposed to be where I kept a record of my children's homeschooling adventure. Boy, we have been so busy living life that I have neglected our blog. I am still homeschooling. I'm still loving it!!! I am so thankful everyday that I am able to spend so much time with my little ones. They are growing up so fast that time seems to be slipping by me.

Over the past year we have done many, many things but the most important thing that we have done is spend time together. We go places together, watch television together, play on the computer together, played outside together, read books together, visited relatives together, visited the zoo together...you get my point. Our homeschooling adventure has given us the blessing of togetherness.

For some reason since I am the first person in my family to homeschool, I have received negative feedback. For this very reason I am very private about telling others that I homeschool. This idea has changed some over the past year. Because of our conviction to homeschool we have been more open about sharing it with others. Homeschooling should not be something that is done in secret and silence. We are homeschooling because it is what we felt called by God to do. If God called us to teach our children then He wants us to share our experiences and our lives with others. The negativity that we have suffered from is from people who have preconceived ideas of what homeschooling is; not because they hate me or my family.

Invariably, we get the question that all homeschoolers face; what about socialization? Guess what, my children are being socialized by my husband and me. We are imparting our morals and values upon our children. We are introducing God and the Bible to our children. We are letting them know what we believe and why we believe it. I am not anti-public school. I am not anti-teacher. I know there are GREAT teachers out there. What I am is pro-God. I want my children to learn about God and how He is the God of love and that He created us and created this beautiful world and everything in it. That is something they will not learn in public school.

Before my son was born I knew that I was going to homeschool. I began reading and studying about homeschooling. I knew nothing about it because I didn't know anyone who had homeschooled. Thanks to the world wide web I was able to plug into some great resources which have helped me. I checked books out at the library. It is a great journey that has brought me to a place where I've had to not only get out of my comfort zone but also to learn to trust God to provide all my needs. I'm a control person; I like to be in control. This journey is not in my control. This journey is not my journey; it belongs to God.

I am going to try to update this blog a couple of times a week. I want to share what I have learned with others and to encourage those who may be thinking about homeschooling. There are many reasons to homeschool. I choose to homeschool because of my convictions from God. Others just want to homeschool their children. I am not judgmental on other people and what they choose. I am not here to judge anyone, just to share our journey and resources. If you have any questions about homeschooling that you'd like to ask, please send me an email at mightoaksacademy@gmail.com. One of the things that I've learned is that those who have previously homeschooled are a great wealth of information.

So soon I will start updating and sharing some of the resources that I really enjoy. For now I will give you three resources that my children love and enjoy on an almost daily basis:

www.starfall.com

www.shidonnoi.com

www.homeschoolfreebieoftheday.com

I credit starfall for helping my son learn to read and my daughter to use the computer. She watched her brother for 6 months then decided she wanted to do it herself (and she was only 2 years old at the time). She's three now and she can go all over the internet (with supervision of course). She has her favorite games and sites that she likes to play.

Enjoy. It's a journey and your children were given to you by God as little blessings for you. Praise God!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fun game to play with the alphabet

Quite on accident the other day we invented a game. I began writing the alphabet on a piece of paper, then cut them into squares. They weren't very big. My intention was to get my two-year-old to recognize the alphabet. She wasn't very interested at the time but my 5-year-old thought that it looked like fun, so I made him a set too. Then I started by asking him to put the alphabet into the correct order. After a few rounds of that we began making simple three-letter words. It was a great accidental learning moment that I thought I'd share.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pre-School Bible Memorization

For a while now I have been wanting to start having my children memorize scriptures. In fact, when my son was small I taught him 1 John 4:8 "God is Love". Then I taught him Genesis 8:22. I believe that our earth and environment are in God's control and Genesis 8:22 is one of the scriptures that confirms that.

While researching on the internet I found this site and it has great information to teach little ones to memorize scripture. There are also other great resources and information on this site as well.

Please let me know your progress or if you have any ideas or resources to teach your children. I'd love to hear them.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Books for readers

I have been scouring the internet, libraries and any where else I can to find books to interest the children. I'm focusing on preparing them to read because I think that reading is a foundation for life-long learning. I have found many different sites that offer suggestions on reading lists for different ages. I am cautious about what I read to my children and I want to make sure that the books that I am exposing the children to are appropriate for our family.

Here's a list of some of the early readers that I have found. I will add to the list as I find more.

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson (this is a great book and an easy read; I love the illustrations.)
Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik
Dragon Egg by Mallory Loehr
Mouse Colors by Jim Arnosky (Great illustrations, the only words are the names of colors. This book is small and great for small hands. My son picked this book out at the library for his younger sister.)
Butterfly by Mick Inkpen (My kids and I LOVE Kipper! There's a whole series of Little Kippers.)

Resource to teach children to read

There's a fantastic website out there for children which helps to teach them to read. It offers stories and games in a fun format. Starfall.com is a great place to start teaching your children about reading and language arts. I do not remember how I found it but I am thankful that I did. My children love it. In addition to teaching reading and language skills, this site also helps the child become familiar with the computer. It is a GREAT help. My 5 year old son asks to play "Starfall". His little sister who is 2 also likes to sit and watch as he plays the games. In fact, she likes it as much as he does! Nan was a late talker, she knew and comprehended what was being said but she just didn't want to talk. I credit starfall for her interest in communicating. Her vocabulary has exploded in the last 6 months and I attribute that to the time that she has watched her brother play Starfall.

In addition to games, stories and movies, there are also printables with each lesson. You can reinforce what they learn while they are playing. If you are looking for a great activity to introduce your child to reading, this is it, visit www.starfall.com. Oh yes, and the great thing about this website is that for the basic information it is free. Yes what a novel idea a website that offers help to parents without charging something.

Recently Starfall added a Kindergarten curriculum that you can purchase. I have not purchased it yet but am thinking about it...at least the $35 annual fee for additional computer games and information. It seems like a bargain!

Good luck and let me know how you like it!

Friday, January 30, 2009

I have unofficially started homeschooling J.W. and Nan. My decision is to use the Sonlight Curriculum, Singapore Math and a bit of my own ideas. I think it is important for the kids to have plenty of free play time. I encourage them to run and play outside when the weather is nice. We go on nature walks, play in the dirt, jump in leaves, pick up rocks, sticks or whatever they find. I do not feel that a structured curriculum is right for them at this point.

The idea that I have is that my 4-year-old needs to learn to read first then I'm going to focus on math and science. I believe that all subjects are important but want to emphasize science and math and make learning these subjects fun and exciting.

With math, he already knows his numbers and can count. I try to teach him everyday things without it feeling like "school". We discuss time and the calendar. He knows shapes and colors. J.W. was a late bloomer when it came to coloring. He just wasn't interested in sitting down and coloring. He does enjoy painting both with a brush and finger painting. He does like to draw on his easel. He also loves playing with play dough or clay. He also enjoys putting together puzzles. We started with the small 9 piece puzzles and now he is up to a 24 piece puzzle. We have to keep the puzzles away from Nan because she destroys them. For some reason my 2-year-old loves to tear things up!

With science I do not have a formal curriculum. Science is in everyday life. We watch the weather and keep up with the temperature, and weather conditions outside. We cook. We observe. We explore. We look at animals, insects and plants. I have a ton of ideas to do with him but find that right now the things we do everyday lend themselves to explaining science to him. I also do all of these things with his sister since she is with us all of the time, I don't exclude her. I believe it is very important for both of them to have a strong math and science education.

I am an equal opportunity teacher. Boys and girls will learn the same things. I will teach him to do laundry and cook; I will teach her how to change the oil in the car and how to use tools. I think in order for them to be well rounded individuals they should know how to do everything.

My son loves to do crafts. He likes to create things. I've found that it is fun to give him a piece of paper, string, scissors, and glue. He goes to town creating masterpieces. I also sometimes tear construction paper into small pieces and let him create pictures from that. Nan likes to do these things also. She makes a giagantic mess with the glue but she has fun.

Resources for Math, Science and the Arts
Kids Art Contest Accuweather.com This is a great site with information on weather. You can join and report on the weather as a team.
Core Knowledge Preschool Classroom Materials this is a great resource full of information. Scroll to the bottom of the page and there is a listing of resources "Core Knowlege Vendors" this has a ton of websites and places you can order catalogs from. I love catalogs. There are so many that it took me several days to order them. A must visit if you like catalogs.
NOAA's National Weather Service Weather safety and awareness publications. This page has a ton of information and PDFs

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Homeschool Freebies, National Geographic Photo Contest

There is no shortage of free information available to the homeschool family. In a recent search on the internet I found some amazing sites. One that I wanted to share is from The Homeschool Magazine,
http://www.thehomeschoolmagazine.com/freebiedirectory/index.html. This site is full of links to other sites that offer free information. I can't wait to start trying it out. Have fun exploring!

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Another website that I stumbled onto is the National Geographic Kids website. This is a cool website and offers many fun things for children to explore. From August 1, 2008 to November 3, 2008, National Geographic Kids is having a photography contest open to children ages 6-14. Visit http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/contests/Photos for complete contest details. Create fun, family memories with your child by exploring their world.