Friday, September 20, 2013

The Little Things

For the first time since we moved to NC I found these lovelies. Until we moved, I pretty much had one of these with a glass of milk every single day. No lie, it was a very conscious "deny myself" kind of abstinence when I chose not to have one. This made me smile big time tonight. And yes. I bought two boxes.

Welcome home.

Monday, September 16, 2013

A peek into a week with Prissy and The Boy

A picture is worth a thousand words, right?  Here's a glimpse into an average week. 
Learning about run-on sentences and how to correct them from the front porch.  


Enjoying some good library time. 

Prissy, however, was disengaged, to say the least.

More time on the porch. We love our porch. :)

The Boy studying Christopher Columbus through Easy Peasy.  He *loves* it! 

Super proud of my boy.  He picked this out and is almost 100 pages into it.  He's also started his own "journal" because of it.  I love it. 

Good morning, it's time for waffles and cheesy smiles. 

Lastly, if I spend too much time with The Boy, you can be sure that something like this is probably happening with Prissy. 

So long Seattle Grace

Over the last couple of months, we've had some very open conversations with The Boy about media choices and why we've got to be careful about entertainment. A lot of this stemmed from the announcement that Disney's Good Luck Charlie would write a gay couple into an upcoming episode. In all honesty, The Boy doesn't watch that show and hasn't shown any interest in any non-animated kids shows. It would've been much easier to ignore it since it doesn't affect us right now.

Before I go any further, let me remind you that nothing I'm about to say should be all that surprising. I'm a Christian. That guides my worldview, my thoughts, my actions, and everything else about me. The Good Luck Charlie thing prompted some honest discussions about sin in our home. Here's the thing, we believe that homosexuality is a sin. Like it or not, it's in The Word. (Gosh, this is hard to write, just because I know how unpopular these words are.) With that said, we don't believe in hate, or making any sin the defining "factor," in our thoughts or actions toward someone. That's not what this is about though.

The Good Luck Charlie episode (which wouldn't have been viewed anyway) wasn't banned from our home, but we used it as a talking point. The discussion from all of this resulted in the difference in media that celebrates/encourages sin and media that teaches a lesson. Considering the fact that good versus bad is such a popular theme for books, movies, and TV, it's rare to find something with nothing bad, even for kids. The difference is that, while some celebrate choices we find destructive, some show them but also show the consequences of the choices. For example, we watch an episode of Rugrats almost every day. There is sin. Even if it's simply lying, it's still sin. Consider how every episode of Rugrats is pretty much mean ole Angelica versus the other babies. Angelica is bratty, manipulative, lying, and selfish. She's certainly everything none of us want our kids to be. Despite her manipulation though, she never wins. She always gets caught and good prevails.

The difference between Rugrats and Good Luck Charlie in this case is that one encourages sin and one doesn't. By encouraging, I mean that it is basically showing it as perfectly acceptable and that there's no message against it.  The Boy understands this concept very well and has since voluntarily stopped watching something he felt was encouraging/celebrating sin.  I'm so thankful that The Boy guards his heart and his mind. You would be amazed by how careful he is.

 It really hit me though when I had to keep pausing when The Boy entered the room while I was watching Grey's Anatomy. I was terrified that he would hear something, or worse, view a very adult situation that he had no business viewing.  I realized I had to say goodbye to Meredith, McDreamy, McSteamy, Christina, and the rest of the oh-so-interesting characters. The last episode I saw was the one where Lexie died. I was waiting patiently for the next season to show up on Netflix when I turned in my badge.

You see, I can't ask my kids to make smart media choices if I'm not willing to make the same choices. Grey's has some fantastically gripping storylines, but they're chock-full of sin. There's no reason to list them; while it may not always celebrate sin, the show definitely doesn't teach against it and if I can't let my child be in the room while it's on, I don't need it in my life.  I've also given up Roseanne for that same reason. Overall, I still think the first couple of seasons are okay, but it's better quit cold-turkey. I've watched Roseanne for longer than I care to admit. I remember watching episodes when they originally aired. This was a huge deal,, perhaps bigger than Grey's since I've watched it for so long, but it had to happen. What kind of message would I be sending if I had chosen the "do as I say, not as I do" approach?

That leaves me watching a lot more Little House on the Prairie, 7th Heaven, Boy Meets World, and Meet the Browns. I'm okay with that though. I "left" Seattle Grace Mercy West Hospital about two months ago and I think walking away was such a great move. I even talked to The Boy about it. He needed to know that I made that choice and why I made it. I'm sure there will be other things that need to be cut and I'll deal with that as it comes. Until then, I'm heading back to Walnut Grove.

There.  I said it. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Painting with Prissy and The Boy

This week's art project is a pretty popular concept on Pinterest.  Being the Pinterest junkie that I am, I've seen this done a bazillion different ways so I thought we'd try it out.  I'm sure painter's tape would've worked best, but all I could find at the time was masking tape.  It worked fine on Prissy's painting, but it did bleed a little on The Boy's masterpiece.  He doesn't seem to mind too much, so I'm happy with it.  I didn't get any pictures of him working, he was just moving too fast for me! 

This was Prissy's first time with paint and paintbrushes.  I thought she did very well and she had a blast.  :) 

Pardon my toes in the photo.  I just don't care enough to crop them out.  ;)

She thought she was big stuff. 

Sorry for the glare.  You get the idea though. 

Btw, if you're so inclined, you can follow me on Pinterest.  Good night, y'all. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

3rd Grade Curriculum Choices- Updates

Since I last wrote about our curriculum choices for this year I've been able to add a couple of things to fill in the gaps.  I'm a shameless internet sleuth and I've finally found some great things to help out with our history and arts this year.  One of those is notebooking/lapbooking.

I was aware of the notebooking concept before, but never really gave it a shot because I've always been curriculum driven.  I like to have a book in front of me and, while I like the thought of unit studies, I've never needed to treat our history topics as one.  That has changed dramatically this year.  We no longer have access to the amazing library resources I've used in the last four years of homeschooling.  It's changed how I teach history.  Notebooking is one of those changes.  We don't have as many physical books in front of us, so I've found that embracing notebooking, lapbooking, or whatever you want to call it, really works for us.  We tend to do a mix of the two but we place the pages in our binders.  The activity itself seems to reinforce the information really well for The Boy.  Better yet, there are many free resources available on the web.

The other major change is using All in One Homeschool-Easy Peasy for many of our history, science, and music needs.  Where our lack of library resources fails us, Easy Peasy has saved the day.  I'm not following it for everything, but I'm now using it as a primary resource for history.  I don't plan to change my original study plans for the year. I'm still using Home Learning Year By Year as my guide, but I'm using Easy Peasy for these areas of history and using the notebooking to reinforce.  As for science, I've already used it several times simply because it was a central location to get good visuals for the topics in Spectrum Science.  It will also be a great tool for teaching music.  I've looked at it and I think this is exactly what I've needed to teach music fundamentals and it's free! 

There could still be changes to our plans, but so far internet resources are filling in the gaps nicely. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Art with Prissy

Prissy is such a busy little creature, she really is.  I would've never dreamed that I'd have to come up with things to keep her occupied while The Boy is doing his schoolwork.  She also wants to do whatever we're all doing.  (Note to self: must communicate dangers of peer pressure well before tweenage years.)  She's only 21 months now, so it's not necessarily appropriate to bog her down with actual curriculum of any kind.  However, I have learned that she loves crayons, paper, learning, and playing.  She wants to be included in our schoolwork. 

Art is no exception.  I thought I'd share a couple of her creations from this week.  I know they're simple and use the same methods, but she loves these tiny pieces of paper.  She really does.  I usually draw an outline of the general shape we're going for and handle the glue placement, but other than that, I let her put the paper where she wants it to go.  She's a happy girl when she's creating! 

White Lake- Clearwater Chapel

I've always loved churches. I've been in church all of my life, often walking by myself to wait on the porch until someone opened the doors.  I must also confess that I've loved church so much that, gulp, as a child I'd walk around the building to see if a door somehow got missed when it was time to lock up.  I'd sneak in and march myself to the sanctuary and just sing to the top of my lungs.  Sunlight beaming in, solitude and total contentment. Just me and God. 

Have I mentioned that I love church?  It should be no surprise that I love photographing them too.  We were at White Lake for the afternoon with some awesome people from our, you guessed it, church and I noticed the coolest little chapel. I just love Clearwater Chapel.  Here are a few shots I grabbed on my phone. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

3rd Grade Curriculum Choices - The Rest of Our Year

Over the last few days, I've shared my picks for our 3rd Grade curriculum choices and the thoughts behind them all.  Now that I've covered Language Arts, Math, Science, and History/Geography, we've come to the end of the 3rd Grade Curriculum overview.  I'm sure any self-respecting educator would notice, however, that there's no post regarding Music, Art, Physical Education, or general enrichment.  I know it looks terrible.  I get that. 

The truth is, that I've just never found the right "curriculum," per se, for any of these topics. Even if I had found something amazing, I most likely wouldn't have had room for it in my budget this year. Like always, I'll be using my Home Learning Year by Year book to help me work these things into our lesson plans.  As I've stated before, that book has been so helpful in guiding our curriculum choices and lesson plans for a few years now.  With that said, working those things into our lesson plans does require a bit more creativity. 

First of all, I'm not an artist.  I have a decent eye for things and I can draw a little bit.  The problem is that I draw like a kid -a talented kid, but still a kid, nonetheless.  Even though my dad and my younger brother are both extremely talented when it comes to art, I'm just not.  Trust me, there's a reason we sent The Boy to Art Camp this summer.  He needed someone who could do more than Diary of a Wimpy Kid illustrations.  :)

When it comes to music, I can carry a tune better than most.  I've been a soprano in church choir since I was a teenager.  I played trombone for 5 years (and played pretty well).  None of that makes me a music teacher though.  In fact, my treble cleft fluency is laughable.  Reading bass cleft like a boss and singing first soprano just doesn't go together.  There's no time to hammer out Every Good Boy Does Fine when you're sight reading a song, right? 

As for P.E., I'm not just a homeschooler, I'm a the mom of a toddler.  She's a precious little toddler and she wants to be my shadow for most of the day.  P.E. in a literal sense is just not practical at this point in our journey.  However, The Boy does get plenty of outside play time.  When outside isn't an option, we still try to move and have fun:  we dance our butts of through the magic of technology and Just Dance. He's also played basketball through our local Upward Sports group for the last few years.  I'm not sure what his sport of choice will be this year, though.  Since we've moved, we no longer have access to Upward.  We'll have to find another option that suits us soon. 

So, yeah, there are a few areas where I just don't have a concrete game plan for the year.  That's where Pinterest, Teachers Pay Teachers, and other awesome websites come into our homeschooling picture.  It's also where lots of homeschooling rockstar moms really help us.  There are sooooo many talented homeschool teachers out there who willingly share there materials.  It's just amazing and it makes creating a well-rounded homeschool year a thousand times easier.  I'll continue using Home Learning Year by Year to make sure we're where we should be for all of these areas and adjusting along the way.  I find incredible resources for these (and all of our other subjects) on a daily basis.  Because of that, even these seemingly neglected areas will get plenty of time in our spotlight this year. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

3rd Grade Curriculum Choices - History, Social Stuides, & Geography

Our History, Social Studies, and Geography materials vary quite a bit this year. I just couldn't find one publisher who could meet all of our needs here.  I chose Spectrum Geography to help us with map skills; that choice was easy enough.  The price is great and it covers all the map reading skills The Boy needs to learn this year.  We'll also use this to explore different concepts of community, thus helping meet most of our Social Studies needs for the year.  I also bought States and Capitals by Twin Sisters Productions to help us with US Geography, but I'm honestly not sure where it will fit. This book promotes memorization through music, which is really helpful for this sort of thing.  Like I said, I'm not sure where this will fit in yet because our focus for the first half of the year is early world and American history -as in pre-revolution American history.  With that said, I've looked ahead into 4th Grade and I'm sure we'll have a home for it there if we can't make it work this year. 

History is going to take us to lots of times and places this year.  There's so much we need to touch on this year, and even more that we need to study extensively.  We've already started with a survey of pre-revolution Native American life and we're moving into early exploration this week.  We'll also be covering these topics this year:  European exploration (not in modern day North America), 13 Colonies, colonial life, the American Revolution, The Renaissance, The Age of Enlightenment, and the Industrial Revolution, to name a few.  Because of the different time frames and locations, I didn't see anything with a reasonable cost that would work for us. 

I ended up buying The Complete Book of United States History to use for the majority of the US-related topics.  It's a little outdated, but that won't matter since we won't be covering anything in recent history this year or any time soon.  I like the fact that the book is nicely illustrated and the information is digestible for children. 

I also ordered The History of the United States Told in One Syllable Words accidentally from Amazon.  I canceled the order, but they told me to keep it and that it was their treat.  No complaints there!  I don't love this book; it's very difficult to read because it was written in 1884.  However, I do plan to use it from time to time, if for no other reason, to view the United States from the eyes of someone living in that point in history. 

Lastly, I stumbled upon the Draw and Write through History series.  The Boy loves to draw and finding a way to incorporate that into what we're studying is so cool to him.  I bought two of the books for this year (and will probably buy more in the future).  We have already jumped into The Vikings, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance and we'll be using Pilgrims, Pirates, and Patriots this year too. 

We'll round all of this out with various other resources, such as items from Teachers Pay Teachers, Pinterest, videos from The History Channel, and the Liberty's Kids series.  I'm definitely looking forward to exploring these times with The Boy!