Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Tea Parties, Fairy Tales, and Chapter Books

Well, we've been homeschooling for a little while now, and... I am loving it! Everyday is not rainbows and unicorns and, just like in my classroom, I have tweaked our routine, our resources, and our procedures as needed. I imagine that will be a continual process as life changes. In case you've been curious at all about how things are going, here are some highlights...

I do use a homeschool curriculum as a base, but I've never been a teacher that uses one resource and follows it to a T. I always have mixed and matched and made things fit my teaching style.  My base curriculum is Mother of Divine Grace. I follow the MODG lesson plan for Poetry, Phonics, Handwriting, Religion, and Math pretty much as written. Literature study comes from Five in a Row, and we got a subscription to Ivy Kids that I incorporated as well. And we read LOTS of books, both picture books and chapter books. Over Christmas break, I decided to do artist studies for art this semester:  read about them, make observations about their work, and make some art of our own. A LOVES an art project! 

Ivy Kids box

At the beginning, I didn't know what kind of homeschooler I was. However, through reading and listening to a couple of podcasts, I'm figuring out who I am as a home educator.  I am learning so much! MODG is a classical curriculum, and I feel I fit with a classical homeschool approach. However, I am also a bit eclectic since I supplement with other resources and do some things my own way. 

Each evening, sitting around the dinner table, we often ask the kids to tell us 1 "happy" thing about their day. (They also turn this around on us.) 
Here are MY "happy" things about our homeschool day...

1. Morning Time: "Morning Time" includes all of the activities we do together. Some of these things even happen at breakfast. We say the Pledge of Allegiance. (I feel a little silly about standing in our mudroom where we have a small flag saying the Pledge of Allegiance, but if we don't say it, how will they learn it?) We review our calendar. We pray and read the day's Bible story. Both kids work on memorizing a poem. (This is supposed to be for A, but after L accidentally learned her first poem by just listening to us, he has asked for his own.) I read aloud a picture book and a chapter out of our current chapter book. Finally, we have 1 more activity. I loop through a handful of possibilities, such as an artist study, math game, or music. We do some version of this even on days we don't school, like over Christmas break. It keeps us in some sort of routine, and we all enjoy it. 

2. Tea Parties: On most Tuesdays, we have Poetry Tea Time. These have been fun! A has actually thanked God in her morning prayers for poetry tea parties. My dad is often at estate sales and such looking for treasures, so I asked him to keep an eye out for a real (and cheap) tea set. I didn't care if they matched or not. He totally came through for me! (He found a tea pot for 35 cents!) The kids help me set the table with a table cloth or placemats. They help set out treats on a platter. (We may or may not have opened packages of Mrs. Baird's M&M cupcakes and displayed them on a platter with some orange slices and strawberries at one of our tea parties.) They set the table with the pretty (mismatched) cups and saucers. A's favorite teas are chamomile and peppermint with some honey. We take turns choosing poems for Mom to read aloud out of various poetry books. Be Glad Your Nose is on Your Face by Jack Prelutsky has been a BIG hit! They look forward to this each week. :)

3. Fairy Tales: We started out the year reading fairy tales, and both A and L had their faves that they would ask me to read over and over again. The fairy tales continued to show up in their play. Their enthusiasm was really cute. We are now revisiting fairy tales to do some writing. A is creating a fairy tale book by visually representing each fairy tale and dictating to me a retelling of each story. She is super excited about this ongoing project from Brave Writer

4. Chapter Books: I am a huge picture book fan! I always have been. Picture books have been an invaluable resource in my classroom since the very beginning, in all subjects. However, reading chapter books with the kids has been really wonderful. Reading a book over time together and talking about the characters brings us closer to each other. I let A choose what book we will read next from a small selection I've made. However...she found The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling in a box of books I had, and she insisted we read it...not a book I would have chosen for her. I made clip art cutouts of the characters at the beginning of the book to help them keep the characters straight, and they asked lots of questions and wanted to talk about the story, but she and L loved it!  When we finished the book, we celebrated with a family movie night to watch the live-action version. It was great!
Besides The Jungle Book, we have enjoyed...
The Princess in Black series by Shannon Hale
Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins
Catwings by Ursula K. Le Guin
James Herriot's Treasury for Children 
Mrs. Piggle Wiggle by Betty MacDonald
Little Bear series by Elsa Holmelund Minarik
Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel
Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
*This does not include the chapter books A has become obsessed with on audiobook!

So far I'm still so happy to get to spend each day with them, reading, learning, and playing...even when the day is not filled with rainbows and unicorns. 

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