Thursday, July 12, 2012

Homeschool update

We are still homeschooling through the summer, but we're being relaxed about it-if we have a playdate or something else going on, we'll skip a day here and there. The kids look forward to the stories, and we just finished a science section where we learn about months of the year, seasons, and holidays, and have started a unit on nature, and one on the 5 senses. We've been incorporating both of those topics in a lot of our daily learning. We went on a nature walk and made a book of things we see in nature, then we went on another nature walk to listen to nature. Next we'll do smelling and feeling, and hopefully by the time we get to tasting we'll have some food growing in our garden!

For our seeing nature walk, I cut a bunch of papers up and Jeb made a nature book. We walked down the sidewalk and whenever he saw nature, he would call it out and we would stop and get out his papers and pen and he would draw it. I brought papers for the girls too but they weren't really interested. Journey just waved her paper around, and Vivi ignored the nature and scribbled on her paper the whole time. Maybe next year :) Jeb really enjoyed it and carried the book everywhere with him, showing anyone who would stop and look.

 Jeb's handwriting is coming along, driven by his desire to write everyone's names, especially his and his friend Tariku's. 

Vivi enjoys the stories, but we don't do any kind of book work with her yet. She already recognizes and identifies all of the letters, but isn't ready to learn to write them. We have 2 of everything for the times that she wants to sit down and try, but we're not pushing anything with her yet. She always knows when I take out my teacher's binder that it's time for homeschool. When we stayed at the hotel in Columbus, there was a binder on the table with local restaurants, and Vivi picked it up and said "Hey! Whose homeschool is this?"

Religious education has been going well too, some of the bible stories are a little bit above his understanding, even though it's a preschooler's bible, but he does understand how God made everything. Or as he'll tell you, "God made everything, and God made people, and people make cars." We were watching a VeggieTales movie (Snoodlerella) and the girl who doesn't feel very good about herself talks to the king, and the king says:

"You're kind and you're honest,
Funny and smart.
You're really quite charming, you have a good heart."

"Your majesty," she asked, as a tear came in view,
"I'd like to believe you. Is that really true?"
"Of course it is true, every word that I say.
Daughter, I am the King. And I made you that way.

Jeb turned to me and said "Mommy, is that God?" I was surprised that he picked up on that. I said "Yes, that is God, you're right!" And then he pointed at the cartoon vegetable king and said "He made Jebby?" Ummm, not exactly buddy :)

Another big part of our weekly routine is our weekly (or twice weekly) library trip. They have a summer reading program that has us there most Tuesdays and Thursdays anyway, but the kids have truly grasped the concept that we can borrow any book we want from the library, and when we take them back, we can get new ones! We have a TON of storybooks in the house, and when we were in the Children's Fiction section of the library, they were only a little bit excited to pick books out, and then would usually pick their own story books to read at bedtime or on their own. So when Jeb started asking questions about animals and cars, we would head over to nonfiction to check out books related to his questions. He LOVES nonfiction! Every week we fill a bag with nonfiction books and they will spend hours every week just looking at all of the pictures and coming up with more questions. When we have a short homeschool schedule and the kids want more, I'll add a nonfiction book into our studies. For the 4th of July we read a book about fireworks and how they are made, and when we had a science lesson about fuel (how we fuel our bodies and how we get fuel for cars, etc), we read a library book about fueling the body, which led into a conversation about healthy choices.

Our choice to homeschool isn't always popular with other people-when Jeb is at his immunology check ups, we are seen by several different doctors and specialists, and there are a couple of them who clearly aren't in support of homeschooling. At the most recent appointment, they all wanted to question exactly what we are doing, you know, to make sure my 4 year old new-to-English son is learning all the right things, like algebra and cursive, right?? But it was almost as if Jeb knew what was going on, and kept chiming it at the perfect time with something that made me look good! One of the doctors said "so what exactly are you doing to homeschool him?" And before I could answer, Jeb proudly said "J is for Jebby!" and kept adding things that he had learned to my explanation. So between that and his remarkable grasp of the English language, they don't have any concerns that they're able to voice yet.

But despite the concerns of others, we're all really enjoying homeschooling! We're learning together as a family, and I can customize it to make it the best possible experience for everyone. I'm able to reinforce lessons that they learn outside of the home to make them stick, for instance, when Jeb went to Vacation Bible School, the week's theme was Daniel in the lion's den. So instead of the regularly scheduled bible stories that week, we read about Daniel. When Jeb's Sunday School class did a project that involved scissors and he was frustrated because he wasn't very good at it, I pulled out a practice cutting book I had bought and safety scissors so he could practice. The stuff we're doing right now is pretty basic, but I'm really excited to watch them learn and progress and love learning!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Vivi's Donut Birthday Party

We finally had Vivi's birthday party last weekend, only a few weeks belated! The theme she picked months ago and has stuck with the whole time is a donut party. Easy enough I thought, but it was really hard to find donut party ideas on the internet, I had to come up with everything myself. We decorated the house with colorful crepe paper and some hanging decorations, and that morning we went to the donut shop and bought a LOT of donuts, both regular and holes. Vivi was so excited about that! She wore her 'sparkle dress', which is her current favorite.

We invited a few of Vivi's friends, but after a couple of last minute cancellations, we only had 2 guests. With our 3 kids, it was a 5 person party, which worked out really well.

We played a ring toss game with a cardboard cutout as the ring that I decorated to look like a donut (but forgot to take a picture of!) and then we did donut hole bowling. We have a bowling set that I was going to use and just call the ball a donut hole, but then I thought it would be funny if we used an actual donut hole. We used empty ice cream cones as the pins and let the kids roll donut holes across the floor at them.

We had lunch, Annie's bunny shaped macaroni and cheese, strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, a veggie tray, popcorn, and juice boxes to drink. Vivi's favorite things!

Then we did a craft-I bought spice jars with shaker tops and lids for $.99 at Bed Bath and Beyond, and put colored sugar in bowls. Eric made paper funnels, and the kids did sand art with sugar! Everyone got to take home their jars to decorate cookies, cupcakes, etc. They turned out really cute!

Vivi's cake, made of donuts, with candles that spell her name.

The guests each got one of these as their favor, it says 'DONUT you know you're a great friend? I hope you had a HOLE lot of fun at my party! Love, Vivi' and inside are donut holes. A little cheesy but cute :)

Vivi LOVED her party and is still talking about it :)