Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Kindergarten Countdown!!

The countdown has begun... we made a paper chain to count down the days left until Kindergarten. Today = 71 more days! This is our new calendar set-up, still working on it - but you can see the paper chain off to the side. :) I also have a laminated piece of paper on the bulletin board and every day, we write down the new countdown number.

Monday, May 30, 2011


We have been talking about plants lately. As I posted awhile back, we were working with a plant kit we got at Barnes & Noble. That was a dud. Despite us giving the plants sun, water, and love, they did not grow. So I guess that turned into a lesson of how sometimes, things just don't work. :)

I'm so excited that Bug is reading all sorts of words. It has expanded our horizons as far as school goes. We sat and did the "parts of the plant" board I created for spring, and she read all the words out loud and put them where they went. Without prompting from me. Wow! :)

I re-purposed our train table into a Learning Center, and this week it's still all about plants. (Next up: Bugs and Butterflies!) Here is the center - I created a bunch of activities that involve matching words with food from plants, parts of plants, etc. I will put out one or two a day this week. (Monkey is getting in on the action too!)

Here is a close-up of the file folders I created with the plants we eat, what "group" they belong in, and their names:

Fun! :) Also going to order this for the Monkey: flower toy from Amazon. I love these stacking wooden toys. But they are EXPENSIVE. So I'll buy one every so often.

Will post soon with more info about starting school for Monkey @ home.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Our year is almost over...

At the end of last week, I read through this blog and then I spent the weekend reflecting on this whole homeschooling thing. I am very happy with our school choice. I think Bug will have a great time making friends, and will thrive there. However... I am sad that we are not exclusively homeschooling. These past 8 months have been truly wonderful. Exhausting at times, and kind of scary as I pondered the idea of being solely responsible for my child's education, but looking back at the posts and thinking about all that we have done, it has been a great experience. So I can say with absolute certainty that if I am not happy with Bug's experience at her school, I can bring her back home and we will be a-okay.

Time for a post-mortem of the year, to get my thoughts jotted down somewhere:

We started out doing the boxed curriculum from Calvert. Great package, but not right for us at this time. For one thing, trying to re-create a classroom at home did not work. And, the curriculum was too easy. I will save that curriculum and use it with Monkey towards the end of next year. It's a good fit for a 2-3 year old, I believe.

Then we moved on to doing our own curriculum, and the workboxes. That was wonderful - it was great to tailor the day to suit our needs, and to tailor the projects/lessons to our teaching/learning styles. But, when the weather outside got nicer, we wanted to spend more time out there doing fun things. So we eased off a bit.

The past 3 months, we have been doing "unschooling", if I had to put a label on it. It was great for us to step back and just have fun without planning every lesson. When Bug asks for worksheets, we do them. When she wants to do something formal, we do it. Otherwise, it's just been games (Memory, Monopoly, Yahtzee, etc.), reading a LOT of books, and getting outside to enjoy the beautiful desert air. We have been to the zoo, the Desert Museum, the park, and on some lovely walks where we have explored our world. We visited California and discussed how different the climate and terrain are there. We have had some wonderful conversations about life and learning, without the assistance of curriculum. It's been very laid-back and refreshing. Amazingly enough, without doing Hooked on Phonics very much during this time (maybe once or twice in the past three months), Bug is suddenly reading all sorts of random words that haven't been "taught". I love that. Every day brings unstructured learning experiences, and it's been a joy to go through that together.

We really did get into our homeschool groove this year. I could do this, and strike a great balance. For me, a truly Type A person who likes to have things organized and planned as much as possible, it has truly been a learning experience for me as well. I can step back and not have to micromanage every aspect of this. We can have weeks (or months, like we just did :)) where we just learn through living. My children will learn at their pace and be OK, and even thrive while doing it. I think there is a great balance between unschooling and workboxes, and that is what we are going to do this summer, and going forward, with the Bug. Monkey is ready for some more structured "playtime" that includes purposeful toys designed to help her start learning shapes/colors/letters/etc. And as she gets older, I will move on to learning centers with interesting learning toys set out for her to play with at her leisure - much the same as what I did with Bug at this age.

I think I'm going to continue this Blog. Life gets so crazy sometimes, it's nice to come back and look at what we have done. Also, since I'm posting it to FB, it's a good way for friends and family who are far away to see what we are up to. :)

Thanks to you all for joining me this year, and for all your comments and support!